Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently asked questions
Our hands-on experience, practical construction knowledge, and the relationships we have established with judges, mediators, special masters, adjusters, insurance carriers, and regional managers, arbitrators, experts, and other attorneys that know that when we bring a case or make a claim it’s factually and legally justified and that we are well prepared to prove it. This can make good things happen for our clients. When we can, we contact carriers in advance of a filing to assure the case is assigned to an experienced, pragmatic decision maker, and to assure that we address their concerns in the filing before it goes public. We take pride in giving our clients 100% and giving each individual our personal attention. You won’t wait for a return call or be shunted off to an inexperienced associate. You will be able to speak directly to any attorney on our team.
First, stop and take a deep breath. Then, call us. You need to contact an experienced attorney with respected and professional relationships in the insurance industry, the Courts, and ADR communities. Generally, there will be a maximum of 30 days to get a response on file. Changing the response later if it is not done correctly adds avoidable expense (or worse), so getting it right the first time is critical. You may have facts that provide a defense that can be asserted to resolve the case immediately or that can get you insurance coverage or money from an indemnitor for the defense and claim costs. There may be others involved that ought to share the burden of the litigation or the resolution and you may need to name them with your first filing or either lose the right to do so later or incur costs applying to the Court to amend a filing later. Getting the facts corralled as soon as possible is key.
Your initial consultation and case evaluation are free. If we believe we can work with you and aid you in your matter, the total end cost will vary depending on your unique situation.
For example, it may be possible to get the desired result by helping you write a letter that you send. (We’ve done this numerous times for getting a window or equipment manufacturer to follow through on warranty obligations). Or, perhaps the contract the Owner or the Contractor wants you to sign has pitfalls neither of you are aware of; pointing that out and suggesting clearer agreement language can often be done in an hour or less. Whatever the situation, if there are more efficient and less expensive options that fit your needs, we’ll let you know and stand ready to implement if you choose.
Generally, we bill on an hourly basis and track that time down to the three minute interval. We provide very specific invoices that let you know exactly what is happening in your case. Construction defect cases with a very unique profile might be appropriate for a hybrid contingency arrangement, where the costs and consultants fees and our office’s overhead are paid as the case progresses and our fees are paid as a percentage of the recovery at the end.
Other cost considerations
If there’s a claim for repair work or money, it may be that litigation is not necessary and that identifying and exchanging documents or having a site meeting can generate a resolution. Even if it doesn’t, getting on the site early can avoid wasteful and time-consuming misunderstandings that will interfere with efficient case management if it does end up in a suit.
If the case involves construction defects, a large part of the cost will be generated by the necessary experts.
Making sure the right expert is selected and having an attorney who can define and manage the expert’s role is a key to cost control. For example, having an expert review pertinent project documents and opine creates admissible evidence, because an expert’s opinion is evidence, whereas the attorney’s post-review opinion is not. Savings and efficiency can be created by astute understanding of the opportunities and risks and the ability to discern when to pursue these to optimum advantage.
We excel at getting the right team in place early. Where appropriate, we hire previous opposing consultants to cut down on the waste and delay that vetting by the opposition triggers.
Tracking the cost of Construction Defect Litigation over the years reveals that the expert/investigation/consultant fees can run about half of the total cost of a litigated case.
Each case is different. Some require more time and resources than others. Wherever possible, we try to get the case into a Special Master or Referee format. This puts a hold on runaway costs through discovery, gets access to detailed insurance information and/or claim funding resources faster, and sets up a process outside of court designed to address the specific issues of the specific case. This cuts down on waste and delay, the two most expensive elements of any case.
We also fit the legal work and assignments to the skill level needed, so the rate charged will reflect that. We have a legal assistant/administrator with over 25 years of experience, as well as a core group of very experienced contract and research attorneys for discrete projects. Where it will yield efficiency and a savings, we will delegate a project to them.
Although nothing can be guaranteed, with our experience and the professional relationships that we have developed in our years of practice, we often get faster results in a field known for its ponderous delays. We are very good at what we do, but we are not cheap.
Perhaps. In California, the right to get back the attorneys’ fees you paid out in the suit must either be an express provision in a contract or provided in an applicable statute. Some statutory rights to recover fees may not be obvious, so it’s best to work with an experienced counsel to assure that no recovery opportunity is overlooked.
Costs generated by construction experts are also potentially recoverable, particularly those relating to determining the existence, cause, and best repair approach for defects. Other litigation expenses, such as deposition fees, process server fees, etc., may also be recoverable under certain circumstances. Phrasing the claim to maximize the ability to use the contract, statutory fee, and cost recovery provisions is important.
No, we do not. Television and movies aside, litigation is the worst way to avenge subjective personal principles. It is expensive, often frustrating, occasionally insulting, and is best geared to achieving objective, generally monetary results. If the goal is primarily subjective, it’s likely we’ll offer to find you a referral that would be a better fit.
It’s also important to note that if litigation is involved, we’ll be in a close relationship that could potentially span over a year or more, which can be intense. Huge factory firms push clients onto associates that may not even like, believe, or respect them, and instead see them only in terms of the hourly minimums they must hit. The luxury of having a small firm is that if we take your case, we will truly be your advocate. Take a look at our referrals page.
In our practice, our goal is to achieve real, objectively measurable results, whether that is getting an Owner money to fix a house, getting a project on track through contract documents that provide a clear roadmap for everyone involved, setting up a Builder’s new venture, or recovering (or defending) liens and collections.
We do our best to evaluate each case and, in most cases, we know our expertise will help put our client in a better situation. If we can’t, we’ll let you know. Our practice and experience are wide ranging. Contact our office and we’ll evaluate your particular case, candidly advise you of options, and let you know if we’re a fit.