Types of Construction-Related Litigation Damages
Construction litigation is a complex process that parties will try to avoid if their needs can be met through other dispute resolution means. However, that is not always the case. Instead, parties including general contractors, developers, owners and subcontractors often engage in a costly legal battle when there is no other means to resolve disputes. What follows a construction ligation is the award of damages to the party or parties that the court has found to be aggrieved. Depending on the basis of the damages claim, the court can choose to award damages given the wrong it seeks to correct. Litigants must know that damages as a legal remedy is purely monetary and precludes, for example, the court ordering another party to perform a specific action.
Actual damages are direct and naturally traceable as a result of the breach. These damages are, so to speak, inevitable given the circumstances. The damages would be suffered by any injured party under the facts of the litigation. For example, if a building developer pays a general contractor to complete an addition to a building structure by a certain date and the contractor has not started construction on said date, the developer has the right to sue for the money paid to the developer for completion of the structure. The compensation sought by the plaintiff is directly tied to nonperformance. Therefore, the award is classified as general damages which flows directly from the circumstances.
Special damages are damages indirectly resulting as an incidental occurrence. These damages are suffered because the injured party is in a special circumstance. In other words, though they result from a breach of contract, they are not necessarily common in all cases. As a result, special damages can differ from plaintiff to plaintiff. Special damages are awardable in construction litigation cases, nevertheless, they are more common in tort cases. This is because special damages have to be substantiated so that it breeds fairness to the defendant. In a tort case, an injured motorist can seek special damages as a result of lost earnings. However, a court would be less inclined to awarding special damages based on lost business opportunities, which may be harder to quantify.
Exemplary damages, also known as punitive damages, are awarded in addition to actual damages. These damages can be requested by the plaintiff and in other instances, the court can, within its own authority, order it from the defendant. By definition, punitive damages are considered punishment for an egregious action. Even if it is requested by the defendant, punitive damages are awarded at the discretion of the court. This is especially the case when the defendant’s actions are found to be harmful. For example, in the construction setting, punitive damages are leveled against defendants who construct knowingly defective structures, but continue otherwise.
Contact an Attorney Today for Help
Fort Lauderdale construction attorney Brendan Sweeney has a wide range of experience in complex construction litigation. Our team is well-versed with in-court processes and will guide you with knowledge. Contact us now for a consultation.