Anyone who has been a defendant in a lawsuit will tell you that the process is expensive, time consuming and stressful. I have spent the past twenty years defending businesses and individuals in courts throughout Virginia and can attest to the emotional and financial toll which a lawsuit can have on the litigant. This article will focus on what steps a business in general and a builder in particular can take to make this process as painless as possible.
There are some steps a builder can take to defend itself even before a lawsuit is filed. Frequently, a builder will have some inclination that a lawsuit is imminent. If that is the case, one should make sure to preserve all evidence, including putting a hold on all e-mails, correspondence and other documents which may be relevant. Courts can impose heavy sanctions when evidence is discarded, even unintentionally, when a party has reason to know that a claim might be filed. Taking photographs of the project is very important, especially since access to the property will be restricted once the case is in suit.
Once a plaintiff files a lawsuit, Virginia law allows the party to wait for up until one year before the complaint has to be served on the defendant or its registered agent. Once the defendant has been served, it is important to promptly notify your attorney and liability insurance carrier or agent. Notifying the insurance company, even as early as the time when a builder has reason to believe that a suit may be filed, could have the effect of having insurance company hire a lawyer at the insurer’s expense to defend the law suit. An insurer’s requirement to defend and indemnify a builder for a construction defect claim is a subject for another article, but placing the carrier on notice of a law suit is a step which a defendant should take.
Please see full article below for more information.
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