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Defenses to Lawsuits against Contractors

Construction Lawsuit Defenses

In construction liability cases, architects, engineers, and contractors may be sued for construction defects, i.e., flaws in a structure's design, materials, or workmanship. But a suit does not automatically mean a defendant is liable for the claim. On the contrary, there are construction defenses that may limit the plaintiff's damages or even defeat their claim entirely.

  • Failure to Mitigate: Once a plaintiff has recognized a problem with a structure, they should take reasonable action to minimize the damage (e.g., if the property owner discovers a pipe has burst, they should turn off the valves feeding the pipe). If they fail to act, they become responsible for any additional damage they could have prevented.

  • Failure to Maintain: Property owners should maintain their buildings in good repair. Contractors are not liable for damage resulting from an owner's lack of maintenance.  

  • Economic Loss Rule: According to Colorado law, when a plaintiff has sustained financial losses due to a construction contract alone—and absent some other independent duty owed by the defendant—the plaintiff is barred from making a tort claim. 

  • Statute of Limitations and Repose: Under Colorado's Statute of Limitations, plaintiffs must file lawsuits for construction defects within two years of discovering them (or within two years of the time they should have discovered them). The state's Statute of Repose bars construction-defect lawsuits filed later than six or eight years after substantial completion of construction.  

  • Comparative Negligence: In Colorado, an injured plaintiff's recovery is divided between the parties responsible for the injury. If a single defendant is found to be wholly responsible for the defect, the other defendants are not held responsible for any of the plaintiff's damages.  

  • Other Party Liability: When determining a defendant's liability, fact finders may include an evaluation of a nonparty's share of the responsibility for the defect when the nonparty has settled a claim out of court or is otherwise not part of the proceeding.

Of course, this is not a comprehensive list of construction defenses. That's why, if you're a construction professional with potential exposure to a construction defect claim, the team at Volpe Law, LLC, can help. Call our offices today at (720) 441-3328 or contact us online to request a free consultation.

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