Can someone sue me for construction delays?

Along with non-payment disputes and arguments about the quality of products and services, delays are some of the most common issues in the construction business. As a contractor or investor, you probably prepare to deal with most of these conflicts — by making customized contracts for every job, for example.

However, there are situations in which your contract might not foresee every eventuality. In these cases, you might have to turn to the law.

Foundation of construction delay law

Contract law in the construction business is different from one jurisdiction to another. For example, as provided by the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute, federal law exempts contractors from default if the reason for the delays was outside of their control.

Unfortunately, the buck does not stop there. Part of the reason you make custom contracts is to agree to specific terms that define your relationship in addition to or, in some cases, replacing the definitions and defaults that exist in regulations, statutes and case law. Therefore, your contract could bear on this issue.

No recovery for delay

One of the more common examples of redefined relations in terms of construction setbacks is the no-recovery-for-delay clause. By default, Tennessee courts could generally decide that contractors have the right to recover damages caused by delays. These popular clauses could limit your liability or your ability to claim delay-related damages, depending on your position in the case.

To summarize, you would not generally have any liability for a delay you had no control over as a contractor. However, depending on your contract, you also might not be able to recover damages based on any delays.

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