The construction industry in the United States is enormous today, and there is always need for new buildings being constructed, from suburban homes to schools, banks, skyscrapers, and shopping malls, and many construction crews can be found across the nation to get the job done. But construction is hard work, and a lot of manpower, materials, and tools go into a project. There is also the very real risk to life and limb, and other issues may go wrong on a project too, such as late invoice payments, equipment damage, or the entire project getting way behind on schedule. To fix these issues a they arise, and often to prevent them, construction law has an important role to play during a project. Construction law is written by and enforced by a construction lawyer during a project, and construction law can easily be enforced when a crew has a construction attorney on retainer or when the manager reaches out to a nearby construction law firm for help. Just how large is the construction industry today, and what might go wrong during a project to necessitate the involvement of construction law?
The Size of the Industry
In a highly developed and urbanized nation like the United States and others, a lot of construction is always being done to set up new buildings, sometimes tearing down old ones in the process to make room. Unfortunately, sometimes things may go wrong during a project, and it is not unusual for construction crew managers to pursue litigation against a perceived at-fault party. The AAA, the American Arbitration Association, is often involved for these cases, which sometimes go to court and can be worth staggering amounts of money. As recently as 2015, the AAA administered a total of 551 construction law cases, and each had a value of $500,000 or more. Among all these cases for that year, the largest case was worth an enormous $2.6 billion, and the largest arbitration case came out to a value of $96 million. That year, the combined value of all claims and counter-claims reached $5.5 billion. This is a lot, but it may not be surprising when one considers that the total value for the American construction industry is roughly $1 trillion. This is counting construction crews, materials suppliers, and the manufacturers and repair workers of equipment such as jack hammers, backhoes, bulldozers, and dump trucks. Where does construction law fit into all this?
Accidents at the Workplace
A workplace is, put simply, a hazardous place, and this can involve either material, bodily, or paperwork hazards. On the site, workers are exposed to all sorts of hazards, such as lung issues. Many workers today are exposed to airborne silica which can harm the lungs, or they may breathe in fumes from paint thinner or motors, which can also cause health issues. Aside from that, workers may slip and fall from a great height onto a had surface (this may break bones), or workers may get body parts trapped in machines or they may get crushed under heavy items or run over by bulldozers. What is more, equipment or property damage may ensue from negligence or the misuse of hardware, such as a crane’s load knocking over property or equipment or a bulldozer running over work equipment by accident.
And this is just the physical. It is also possible for some construction contractor crews to fall behind on promised invoice payments or forget them entirely, or another crew on the project might repeatedly violate state or city codes for construction safety and material regulations. Or another crew’s manager might attempt a wrongful termination of the entire project. In cases of property damage or worker injury, a construction manager’s lawyer can pursue litigation and get settlement money or other compensation from the at-fault party. In other cases, the lawyer might pursue sensible termination of a project that is over budget or too far behind on schedule. And before any project is launched, all crews involved and their lawyers will look over the paperwork for invoice payments, equipment borrowed, and more, and ensure that everyone is being treated fairly in the upcoming project.