A significant amount of all construction litigation cases involve some type of construction defect claim. Most construction defect claims arise out of damage to property or the use of property which is caused by negligent design or construction of new buildings, or negligent performance of home repairs.
The majority of construction defect complaints are grounded in breach of contract or negligence theories— or both.
Because of the prevalence of negligence claims in construction defect cases, it is important to understand the standard of care applicable in these types of case.
In today’s post we will give a brief overview of the standard of care for a negligence-based case, and how it can affect your construction defect case.
Claims for Negligent Construction.
As mentioned above, a primary legal basis for the recovery of damages in many construction defect cases is negligence. The negligence most often alleged is for negligent construction.
Negligent construction claims are not based on the standards in the contract. That is to say, they are not breach of contract claims. They are torts. As such, a negligent construction claim alleges that the work performed by the contractor (or subcontractor) was defective. In other words, the complaint will allege that the work was performed negligently —i.e., it did not meet general construction industry standards.
Negligence and Standard of Care.
To understand “standard of care” and its accompanying analysis, you must first understand “negligence.”
Negligence is the breach of a duty that results in, or causes, damage. Negligence-based claims, allege that the builder or subcontractor had a duty to construct the building (or portion of it, or had a duty to renovate/repair etc.) in a certain manner, and that as a result of the breach of this duty, the homeowner was damaged.
So, for example, if the roof leaks, the homeowner might allege that the roofing subcontractor failed to construct the roof properly causing the leak and damage to the home.
The “duty” that the contractor or subcontractor has to perform his work in a certain way is the “standard of care.”
In negligence-based construction defect cases, the standard of care applied to contractors or subcontractors is that of “a reasonable degree of care, skill and ability, ordinarily employed by others in the same profession.”
It is important to note that the degree of care required is one of “reasonableness.” It is not one of “extraordinary” or “expert” care. It is simply that which a reasonably prudent person would apply.
In Georgia, the standard of care is not based on what other builders would have done, nor even what is the “custom and practice” in the trade. In Georgia, the courts look to what the “universal custom or practice” is to determine what the applicable standard of care is.
Construction defect litigation cases— including proving a breach of the standard of care— are frequently complicated and complex. If you believe you have a construction defect claim, you should consult with experienced counsel.
Georgia Construction Defect Litigation Counsel.
For more than 30 years, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark Weinstein, P.C., have been helping people in the state of Georgia to protect their real property interests. If you have a construction defect litigation issue, contact us. We serve clients in Atlanta, and in a number of counties throughout Georgia, including: Clayton County, Cobb County, Dekalb County, Douglas County, Fulton County, and Paulding County, among others. Call us at: 770-888-7707. Or you can contact us here.