Two Northern California state lawmakers, Democratic Sens. Jerry Hill of San Mateo and Loni Hancock of Oakland introduced a bill that would require construction companies to disclose any felony convictions and settlements about construction defects to state regulators. Specifically, the bill requires firms to disclose to regulators the results of criminal convictions and civil suits in cases of construction defects, fraud, negligence, and incompetence. For example, the company that built the Berkeley apartment has paid over $26 million in the last three years to settle lawsuits related to balcony failures. Although the bill failed in the Assembly Business and Professions Committee, it will become a two-year bill, allowing the Senators more time to refine their proposal.
The bill is in response to the balcony collapse in Berkeley that killed six college students and injured seven others. According to city officials in Berkeley, the balcony collapse was caused by the wooden support beams being rotted by water damage. However, it’s unclear how the damage occurred. The accident is still under investigation.
The city of Berkeley and public interest groups support the bill. Construction industry groups such as the California Building Industry Association and United Contractors oppose the measure, pointing out that in many cases, when lawsuits are settled, construction companies will make payouts even then they are not at fault. They often have primary liability, and if another party such as a subcontractor is negligent, the general contractor ends up with liability. Construction groups also suggest that the broad language contained in the bill would increase lawsuits, and would affect almost every contractor in California.
If a general contractor or subcontractor fails to follow building codes, uses defective materials, or engages in poor workmanship, death and serious personal injury can result. Construction defects can also harm the structural integrity of your property. Construction defects result when the components of a building or the surrounding infrastructure fail to perform their intended function, or do not conform to applicable building codes.
If you are seriously injured by a construction defect, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Your family members may also be able to recover damages. Some damages available include property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and more. In some particularly bad cases, punitive damages may be available, which are designed to punish the defendant for its wrongful actions.
Construction defects cases can be complex, because they require a great deal of evidence from experts showing the building codes, how the construction was defective, and the personal injuries that resulted from the defective construction. It’s best to hire an attorney to help with any case in which defective construction resulted in personal injuries.
If you or a loved one has been injured because of a defectively constructed building, call Micha Star Liberty, San Francisco personal injury attorney, at 415-896-1000 or 510-645-1000. At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that contractors should be held legally responsible for any defective construction that results in personal injuries. She will provide you with a free consultation on your case, and you pay nothing unless she obtains a recovery for you. Call her today to learn more.