Construction Accidents and Defects
The Group addresses all types of construction site accidents and defects including all phases of construction and related activities and the hazards to which workers are exposed on the job site. The number of workplace accidents in the U.S. averages over 5 million a year. Construction site cases are generally the most serious because of the extremely hazardous nature of the work involved, often involving work above ground.
Most "construction defect litigation" has arisen in the context of large public projects, commercial buildings or multi-family condominium, town home or apartment complexes. Aside from the multitude of court decisions addressing disputes involving single-family dwellings, however, there is a dearth of information available to lawyers concerning these cases. This is perplexing given that millions of new homes have been constructed in this country over the last decade, and that tens of thousands have serious construction defects; the pervasiveness of defective construction in new home building has been well documented by the media. Moreover, the last two years have seen at least four "bad house" verdicts in excess of $1 million, with one verdict of $32 million.
In fact, there have been "construction defect" cases for as long as there have been courts, and there are a surprising number of decisions in this area. Until the last few years, however, the cases have typically been handled by small firms or solo practitioners as trifling annoyances in the course of their general practices. While still a narrow field of legal concentration, over the last decade, representation of individual property and homeowners in construction defect cases has become a viable enterprise. This change results from a convergence of many factors. One of the reasons for the surge in "construction defect" cases has been that homes and other properties have been constructed at a furious pace and in record numbers. To fulfill the demand, many general contractors, who are entrepreneurs rather than artisans/tradesmen, have entered the field. These builders frequently employ unskilled and overworked subcontractors. To add to this dangerous mix, building components (e.g., claddings, windows) have become more complex, requiring greater attention in selection and installation. At a time when coordination of the trades has become more critical, many general contractors are less experienced and more remote, increasing delegation and reducing supervision. While the volume of home construction has inspired fierce competition which further encourages builders to cut corners, governmental inspection has decreased because of lack of funding. The combination of all these factors is a potent recipe for substandard construction and the resulting explosion in "construction defect" cases.
This Litigation Group addresses both residential and commercial construction, including defective products such as stucco, windows, and shingles; moisture intrusion; building practices; building code violations; related insurance and warranty issues; engineering problems; and practical remedies.
This Group was formed February 2002.
This Litigation Group will provide AAJ members throughout the country who are working on construction defect cases the opportunity to share information through its list server and develop a successful litigation strategy.
AAJ Winter and Annual Conventions.