Negligence Claims

Get the advice you need if you have concerns regarding your Relevant Building Surveyor, an Engineer, Plumber, Builder or Trade

Builders, Building Surveyors, Contractors and Trades, Negligence Claims

As a building owner, you have a legal right to compensation for losses sustained due to the negligence of builders, plumbers, relevant building surveyors, engineers and other tradespeople. The same is true for builders who engage trades or contractors.

The key issues explained

In legal terms, negligence is a failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances. That behaviour usually consists of actions, but can also consist of omissions (inaction) when there is some duty to act. Working out what constitutes negligence is a legal minefield.
Right here is where the legal minefield begins. Your contract will articulate the work or services to be undertaken, its cost, terms of payment and other important matters. What may not be covered are those pesky “implied” terms, like once a roof has been completed you might reasonably expect that it won’t cave in next week. The duty of care owed to you is often about those implied terms, which can make quantifying negligence quite a challenge.
What loss did you experience as a result of the alleged act(s) of negligence? Can you quantify them in financial terms? You are going to have to place a price on your loss and provide reasonable justification as to how you arrived at that figure.

Where do you presently stand?

In the case of negligence claims that question can be difficult to answer. The good news is that your building or services may be covered by insurance that the Victorian government requires trades, relevant building surveyors, engineers and contracts, to purchase. You will need legal assistance to help you work out if you have been a victim of the type of negligence that you can claim pursuant to that insurance.
The strength of your current position will depend upon a variety of factors. How long ago did the negligence occur? Is your building or service covered by insurance for this type of action? Who is at fault and did this person owe you a duty of care? and are you still within the statutory limitation period? Is your contractor still in business and would this prohibit you from making a claim in any event? Are they prepared to negotiate? A combination of factors will determine the strength of your position.
Because negligence can be extremely complex, it is generally best to seek out legal advice at the earliest time possible. Ideally, you should speak with an experienced building and construction and insurance lawyer firm, like Boutique Lawyers.

What are your options?

You statutory limitation date may expire, you may have dissolved of evidence you required for your claim, you may expose yourself to being sued in the future or may be left to foot the bill.
This is risky and should not be done, negligence is a serious allegation and needs to be considered and prepared for from the outset. If you sue the wrong party you would be up for costs and could be sued yourself.
Hiring an experienced building and construction and insurance lawyer is generally the best option for people considering making a claim for negligence to ensure that they have a claim in the first instance and that the correct parties are sued.

What are your likely outcomes?

Doing nothing will guarantee the crystallisation of your loss.
This is risky and should not be done, negligence is a serious allegation and needs to be considered and prepared for from the outset. If you sue the wrong party you would be up for costs and could be sued yourself.
Hiring an experienced building and construction and insurance lawyer is generally the best option for people considering making a claim for negligence to ensure that they have a claim in the first instance and that the correct parties are sued.

What you should do now