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Tips for Handling Construction Disputes During COVID-19

COVID-19 has forced major changes in the construction industry since being close to other people has become a problem. This is especially true for resolving disputes since the resolution process often requires meetings between multiple parties. This is no longer possible most of the time since quarantine and social distancing measures keep people apart for the sake of their health. Fortunately, we have the technology and resources to find new ways of adjusting to the world that COVID-19 has created. In this editorial, we’ll discuss tips for handling construction disputes during COVID-19 with the help of a Houston contractor attorney.

Related: The Importance of Documenting Project Delays and Damages Caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic

Accept Virtual Meetings

One of the most significant changes in the construction industry since the introduction of COVID-19 is that meeting in person is not an option in most cases. It can be risky to meet with other parties in person since there is a significant chance of spreading the virus. However, we live in a day and age where the technology to have virtual meetings is widely available.

If you need to resolve the dispute, you’ll likely need to meet with another party. To do this, accept virtual meetings. Meeting online removes much of the risk while still letting you resolve disputes using the established process. Houston construction lawyers can facilitate virtual meetings so that they can continue to do work as normal.

The idea of having to rely on technology to conduct meetings may not sit well with everyone. Many people, especially in the construction industry, prefer to stick to traditional methods of handling problems. However, virtual meetings are largely the same as in-person. The only difference is that you need to use specific types of technology to communicate. In essence, it’s no different than trying to have a phone call with multiple parties to resolve the problem.

Related: The Future of Videoconferencing in Construction

Negotiate Terms

The interruption to businesses around the world is making it difficult for companies to stay afloat. If you need to handle a dispute, keep in mind that every company is struggling. This may mean that you may not be able to achieve everything you want when resolving the dispute. Instead of relying on legal action, consider negotiating terms to resolve conflicts.

A Houston contractor lawyer often resolves disputes by negotiating terms. The negotiation process gives everyone involved the chance to be heard and make it clear what they are trying to achieve. If you can successfully balance your needs with the needs of the other party, you may be able to negotiate a settlement that resolves the issue. This would eliminate the need for legal action while helping preserve the relationship with your business partner.

Negotiating terms can be difficult and take an extended period of time to finish. Each party has their own wants and needs, and their concerns need to be addressed so that you all may agree to the terms. Negotiation may be the best option in most cases. Taking legal action is expensive and can alienate subcontractors. If this happens, it also can impact how your business functions in the future.

Related: Resolving Disputes: Negotiations

Be Kind

Under normal conditions, resolving disputes can be stressful. This is especially true under the conditions created by COVID-19. Because of this, it is important to make sure that you are paying special attention to how you react to the other party in your dispute.

Your ability to resolve the dispute without legal action or dissolving the relationship between the parties depends on your ability to positively influence the situation. Everyone is excessively stressed out because of business issues and from trying to resolve your dispute. Being kind to everyone involved will project a level of professionalism while making it harder for the other party to be aggressive or unkind in response.

Houston construction lawyers often use this method to try to smooth out relationships between parties. You can, essentially, ensure that you can resolve the dispute amicably by creating a more positive and sensitive response to the situation. The other party will be more willing to work with you to find a solution if they see you trying to make the situation less stressful.

Follow Procedures

While COVID-19 has forced us to make many changes in the construction industry, it is still important to adhere to procedures. There are specific procedures for handling disputes, and it is in your best interest to follow them. Many of the procedures designed for handling disputes also call for documentation and attempts to resolve problems before legal action is taken. This usually produces the best results for everyone.

Failing to follow established procedures can lead you into bigger problems. For example, not filing the appropriate paperwork for getting things done on schedule can lead to expensive legal actions. It can also create an argument against your opinion of the dispute.

When a dispute arises, have your staff coordinate with each other to find ways of resolving the dispute and discuss your case with a lawyer before taking action so that you can make sure you are taking the right steps and can avoid many of the problems that can develop later.

Handling disputes is difficult under the best of circumstances, but there are many more restrictions to worry about now. Since COVID-19 has changed how people can interact with each other, it is important that you take steps to improve the way you handle this. If you have questions about the different methods to resolve disputes, contact a Houston construction lawyer from Cotney Construction Law.

If you would like to speak with one of our Houston construction lawyers, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.