Construction law: hurricane incidents acts of God when it comes to dock repairs?

Construction law governs disputes between the parties involved in the construction process, for example, a builder and a homeowner or the party contracting the job. There are many laws that govern the construction process, and that applies to the various businesses and professions that are a part of and serve the construction industry.

Construction law became a large industry that combines many fields, and therefore can lead to complicated litigation because it encompasses worker’s compensation for workers who get  injured during construction work, laws related to delays in construction and the inconvenience the may cause, and also simply obtaining a construction permit. 

Because it can be so complex, construction law has evolved into it’s own practice in law and builds upon general legal principles and methodologies. Contracting, subcontracting, liability, negligence, insurance, performance (and this has to do with the quality of the services and if it was delivered in the agreed time).

It can be a complicated matter and a cause of headache for homeowners that simply want the service done. While companies can hire lawyers, etc… for homeowners that weren’t expecting that expense, it can be simply an annoyance.

But also on the contractors side, that haven’t received payment for improvements they made to a property. Mechanics liens is a legal claim that can be used by subcontractors and suppliers as a way to seek payment for the work done remodeling or improving a home.

At waterfrontgurus.com we recently received the following inquiry regarding the repair of a boat dock in southwest Florida: “I hired a marine contractor to repair my dock that was raised up from the sea wall. This was probably caused by rain/wind with hurricane Eta and I paid him ***. They reset the 3 piles and it looked good. In 1 month’s time, we had another rain/wind episode (yes, two hurricanes hit Florida) the dock was again raised up from the same site. I called the contractor and he said there is no warranty because it is an act of God. Do I have a legal right to sue him in small claims court?”

Acts of God provisions, also called “Force Majeure” clauses, relate to events outside human control, like flash floods, earthquakes, or other natural disasters. Generally, these provisions eliminate or limit liability for injuries or other losses resulting from such events. In our costumers case, it clearly was an act of god but a proper review of the contract would be ideal to confirm any claim possibility.

No matter how much you try to plan ahead, many projects are ultimately at the mercy of an act of God — weather events, natural disasters, and so on. So what happens when disaster strikes? 

Joogsquad, famous Floridian Youtuber from the west coast of Florida shows how Hurricane ETA almost destroyed his house but thanks to a beach replenishment project, this wasn’t as bad as in 1985 when another hurricane hit this area almost the same way.

The American Bar Association put together an ebook that collects many items in construction law in various state, including construction law in Oklahoma and Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Some lawyers practice accross states and this ebook can be a handy guide for different legal

Managing risks can be handled not only by sound business and construction practices but also by careful contract preparation and review. Proper pre-construction planning, proven construction means and methods, use of experienced personnel, and safety programs.

Max Francisco