Construction lawsuits can often be quite frustrating for those involved. Oftentimes, a slight defect in a job or at a job site can result in a lawsuit being filed before the issue has a chance to be resolved. Now, many Texans working in the construction industry will be pleased to learn of a new law that recently went into effect that helps to mitigate knee-jerk lawsuit filings from occurring.
Over the summer, Governor Greg Abbott signed several bills into law; one of which, HB 1999, supports the construction field by requiring certain activities to take place before a plaintiff is able to file a lawsuit over construction defects.
Known as the ‘Right to Repair” bill, HB 1999, went into effect immediately after it was passed, and the Bill will significantly alter how disputes involving public entities are processed. HB 1999 amends the Government Code to require cities, counties, school districts, universities, and other governmental entities to take certain steps prior to suing for construction defects, including: (i) provide a written report identifying the defects to each party with whom the entity has a contract for the design or construction of the project and (ii) to allow them a reasonable opportunity to inspect and repair the defects.
A licensed engineer is responsible for drafting an inspection report, which must identify the defect, the current condition of the affected improvements, and descriptions of any modifications made by the governmental entity in question. After the contractor responsible for the project receives the report, they have five days to provide a copy of the report to each subcontractor whose work is subject to the defect claim.
All contractors involved in a project with a defect claim have 30 days to inspect the alleged defect and damages. After this, the contractors then have at least 120 days to correct any defect or enter into a separate agreement with the governmental entity to correct it.
This new law will greatly affect how construction defect cases are handled in Texas. Now, if a public entity files suit without providing the required written report or giving contractors an opportunity to inspect and repair the defects, the suit will be dismissed without prejudice. If the public entity fails to provide the report a second time, then any subsequent suit will be dismissed with prejudice.
MehaffyWeber’s experienced construction attorneys provide a broad range of legal services to entities including construction owners, architects, contractors, subcontractors, design professionals, construction managers, engineers, and building product suppliers in connection with public and private construction projects. If your construction business needs legal counsel from an experienced construction attorney, contact MehaffyWeber today.