Lawsuit With an Unlicensed Construction Professional? You Have Options
You have a significant construction project, and you hire a company that seems to be prepared to do the job. The job gets done, but there are problems with it. Bad workmanship. The job is incomplete. It isn’t up to specifications. Or any other number of problems.
You want to sue, and then you learn the truth: the contractor, laborer, or professional you hired to do the job, was unlicensed by the state to do the work.
This happens very often, and many of us, especially when the construction or repair project is not significant, don’t bother to check on a professional’s license status with the state.
But when someone who is unlicensed does work that he or she needs to be legally licensed to do, you have a number of remedies at your disposal should you need to sue—or if the unlicensed contractor or professional sues you.
Voiding and Disgorgement
Any contract entered into with someone who is unlicensed, for work that requires state licensure, can be voided. You can completely nullify the agreement, and ask the court to put you back in the place that you were, had the contract never been entered into.
That means that if you paid money to the contractor, you are entitled to a full refund of your money. This is often called disgorgement—forcing the unlicensed party to give back whatever was paid to him or her.
Many contractors will threaten to lien your property, something they normally could do. But not when they are unlicensed. Liens cannot be enforced for unlicensed work.
In most contract disputes, you sue for damages under the contract. But with an unlicensed contractor you also have the option of suing for negligence, fraud in the inducement, or violations of Florida’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Whatever the claim, many of these causes of actions allow for the recovery of damages that go far beyond the contractual damages for a breach of contract
Doing work you are supposed to be licensed for, and not being licensed, especially if you are a contractor or in the construction industry, is a crime. If you have been ripped off by an unlicensed contractor, you can report that contractor to the state attorney. That gives you two possible avenues of recovery: your own civil suit, and restitution that the State may force the contractor to pay.
Many laws that allow you to sue unlicensed contractors, also have provisions that allow you to recover for your attorneys fees as well. This can allow you to recover the entirety of your expenditures, including whatever you were forced to pay your attorney.
Because of the stiff penalties, if you have a dispute with an unlicensed contractor or construction professional, often a well worded, stern letter will convince the other side to back down, or to give you the relief you are requesting.
Dispute with an unlicensed professional? Let us help you. Call the West Palm Beach business litigation attorneys at Pike & Lustig today.