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Understanding construction liability in California

Residents in California may benefit from understanding more about the laws concerning remedies for construction defects. State law prohibits legal action from being taken more than 10 years after completing any substantial improvements. California civil code cites several instances where a general contractor, builder, subcontractor, designer, supplier or other similar professionals may be excused from liability, loss or damages.

Legal action in construction cases often concern the materials or services rendered. The statute of limitations for taking legal action extends from the original date that the error was made, not the date that improvements or repairs were attempted. If the damages are a result of an unforeseen act of nature, the construction work completed may be indemnified from legal action. Unforeseen acts of nature may include manmade events such as vandalism, terrorism or severe weather conditions.

If the homeowner or customer failed to prevent or minimize the damages in a timely or reasonable manner, the construction may be exempt from legal action as well. The construction work is not indemnified if the builder's response is inadequate or untimely, but the work is protected against legal action if the customer or homeowner fails to provide a timely notice. Damages caused by the homeowner, or their agent, employee or contractor, due to an inability to adhere to the builder's recommendations, may not be qualified to receive restitution either.

Anyone who needs more help understanding if a construction defect qualifies for legal action might benefit from contacting a lawyer. Legal counsel can investigate the damage and help identify any parties who could be liable for the damages. Attorneys well versed in construction law may assist property owners with negotiating for the appropriate repairs, reaching a settlement or taking legal action.

Source: California Civil Codes, "Civil Code Section 941-945.5", October 28, 2014

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