Castro & Associates Construction Trial Lawyers
310-966-6060

Los Angeles California Construction Law Blog

Did your insurance company offer you an unfair settlement?

Your insurance policy is a contract, and just as with any other legally binding contract in California, both parties must adhere to the terms. However, when it comes to insurance settlements, there may seem to be a lot of gray areas in regard to how much the company must pay in order to treat you fairly. According to the California Department of Insurance, there are state standards to ensure that you receive a fair settlement

Perhaps you believe the settlement offer you received is unreasonably low. Before you request that the California Department of Insurance review the claim, you should understand that the Commissioner will evaluate the circumstances based on these important questions:

  • Did the insurer fully consider all the evidence you provided in support of your claim?
  • What procedures did the insurer use in coming to a determination of the dollar amount for your damages?
  • How thoroughly did the insurer consider the available evidence and legal authority?
  • What amount did the claims adjuster say your damages are worth, and does the company's offer reflect that amount?
  • Did the insurance company's legal counsel inform it that you were likely to recover more than the limits of your policy?

Common types of home defects

Buying a home in California is exciting, and you have a place you and your family can make your own. However, if you discover a defect after you move in this can ruin the enjoyment. Construction defects come in all forms, and it is important to take action as soon as you discover a problem.

According to FindLaw, defects in construction fall into four main categories:

  • Subsurface
  • Material 
  • Design
  • Construction deficiencies

Construction lawsuits and stress management

We realize that construction litigation can be an incredibly difficult topic for many construction company owners and contractors to work through. Between legal fees, time lost and potentially significant financial penalties, these lawsuits are often hard to work through. To make things worse, other challenges may arise due to construction litigation, such as high levels of stress. As a result, it is pivotal to make sure that you manage your stress properly during this time, especially since high anxiety levels can complicate things even more and interfere with your ability to present your side in court.

When it comes to stress management, there are a number of strategies that may prove helpful. For example, you could find value in going over your legal options and building confidence in the approach that you will be taking. Working with experienced legal professionals could help you feel much better moving forward and eliminate some of your worries. You may also find that activities which have nothing to do with the lawsuit, such as exercising and outdoor activities, could help take your mind off of the problem at hand. However, it is also important to avoid procrastination and ensure that these diversions do not get in the way of your case.

Do homes ever get built on the wrong property?

You walk up to your brand new home the day that the construction crew finishes work. It's beautiful. It's everything you hoped it would be. You cannot wait to pick up the keys and go inside. It's a dream home.

There's only one problem: This isn't your property. You owned the next lot over. You didn't have time to check on the progress during the job since you went overseas for work, but you remember buying the lot. And this isn't it.

Construction disputes over abandonment

Construction disputes frequently arise over allegations of poor workmanship and contract issues. However, there are a number of other situations in which someone may decide to move forward with legal action against a construction company. For example, someone may accuse a contractor of abandoning a construction project. A property owner may believe that a project was not completed and that a contractor or construction company left before the job was done, prompting them to file a lawsuit. As with other types of construction disputes, it may be possible to handle these disagreements outside of court in some instances (but legal action is unavoidable in other cases).

There are a number of reasons why a contractor may have to "abandon" a project. For example, a contractor may not be able to start work on a project according to the timeframe that was initially agreed upon, prompting a property owner to accuse the contractor of abandoning the project. Or, perhaps a construction company is no longer able to work on a particular project temporarily or indefinitely, for whatever reason, which could also give rise to accusations of abandonment.

California transit center closed due to crack

Construction litigation arises for many reasons and these lawsuits can be especially difficult for construction companies that have recently completed a lengthy, costly project. In Los Angeles and all over the state of California, it is pivotal for construction company owners to handle these cases appropriately and be aware of just how much may be at stake. Setting aside the financial impact of disputes and legal action, a construction company's reputation may be on the line.

After a construction project that lasted for almost ten years, a recently-opened transit terminal in San Francisco was closed after a support beam was found to have been cracked. Officials have stated that the transit center will stay closed as engineers review the crack and inspect other beams.

San Francisco high rise exposes construction complexities

Residents in California who purchase homes should be able to trust that the building work was all completed appropriately and that they should not need to be concerned about problems with their structures. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. From single family homes to larger, multi-tenant buildings, faulty construction can cause serious issues that may take time to unravel and resolve. 

An example of this can be seen in the Millennium Tower project, San Francisco's tallest residential building boasting 58 stories and amazing views of the city and the bay. Opened to the public in 2009, Forbes explains that just seven short years later, it was identified that the skyscraper had not only sunk four inches more than it was supposed to in its entire life but it was also leaning two inches to one side. Some information indicated that there was the potential for another 15 inches of sinking to occur if no action was taken.

Why Boutique Construction Law Firms Are Ideal for Complex Construction Claims

When envisioning a lawyer to retain, it's difficult to articulate what makes a great litigation firm. But one thing is definitely true: "Fear the trial attorney who knows his case." Simply stated, it's impossible to bring home a win if you don't know the case inside and out.

Attorneys at boutique construction litigation firms like Castro & Associates are particularly adept at following this paradigm. They build their cases from the ground up. They are trial lawyers - there simply isn't room at the firm for the archetypal behind-the-desk, paper shufflers. The "hands on" deep familiarity with every aspect of a case of these seasoned lawyers is just one of the many reasons why boutique construction firms are ideal for complex construction claims. Here are few more:

  • 24/7 relationships Boutique construction firms specialize in construction and know their specialty area of construction law. Also, the trial attorneys who prepare the case are the same attorneys that will try the construction cases. Boutique firms allow for close working relationships between trial attorney and clients. Clients always know the chain of command and "where the buck stops." Clients can "put a face" to the trial attorney who will work with them through all phases of trial, and have the luxury of direct communications 24/7.
  • Such regular person-to-person collaboration inculcates productive working relations, creation of trust, and reliable "team building" skills that will be needed to navigate a complex construction litigated claim from start to finish. Boutique firms typically involve a center nucleus and discrete support team approach. The seasoned trial attorney with four decades of specialized construction experience forms the nucleus and the support team provides interactive and critical support throughout the prosecution of the complex multi-party construction claim.

At Castro & Associates the litigation team is:

Assessment and mitigation of earthquake damage risk

Earthquakes are a fact of life in California, and the challenges for construction companies and property owners are not only to build new structures that will be able to withstand the force of an earthquake but to rehabilitate older buildings so that they are safe. 

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, one of the most seismically vulnerable community construction categories is buildings made with unreinforced masonry walls. Masonry refers to bricks and mortar, and a reinforced masonry wall has a grid of steel bars embedded within it for stability. By definition, this grid is missing in an unreinforced masonry wall. Due to the relative inability of URM walls to withstand the stresses of an earthquake, buildings constructed of URM are the frequent target of seismic risk reduction programs in the United States, whether on a mandatory or voluntary basis. 

Construction defects can damage the value of your home

There are three types of construction defects: workmanship, design and material. Depending on the problem, you may have the right, as a homeowner or new buyer, to have repairs made by the seller or the construction team that led to the defects. In some cases, materials can be replaced by manufacturers, since the defects lie in the materials themselves.

To understand who is responsible for the defects, you need to understand the above three categories. Here's a little more about workmanship, material and design defects.

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Castro & Associates
11766 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 250
Los Angeles, CA 90025

Phone: 310-966-6060
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