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Contractor defense: Steps to take if you don’t get paid

On Behalf of | Dec 29, 2022 | Construction Law |

One of the most frustrating things about working as a contractor is the clients who don’t pay. They might claim that they can’t afford it or raise a dispute with you about the quality of the work that you don’t feel is justified. 

You deserve to be paid what you’re owed for the work you’ve done — so here are some steps you can take to make things happen:

1. Talk to the client and try to negotiate

Maybe your client is waiting on payment from a third party before they can pay your invoice. If your invoice is late and you have a good relationship with the client that you’d like to protect, try talking to them and see if you can arrange a date for payment that is satisfactory to you. That way, you can preserve the long-term relationship.

2. Go back to your contract

As an independent contractor, federal laws that protect employees, unfortunately, do not cover you. The most powerful weapon you have in your arsenal is your contract, and it’s where you should always start when facing a payment dispute. If your client ignores you or refuses to pay, you can use the contract as a means to take legal action. Review its terms to make sure you’ve complied with any dispute resolution procedures and for clarity on how to proceed.

3. Take legal action 

You can file a claim against the client for the money you’re owed. The court can order the client to pay you what you’re owed. Alternatively, they can order a construction lien or a mechanic’s lien which are guarantees of payment to you, by the client. 

As a contractor, the law affords you rights in circumstances where you aren’t paid what you are owed. As there are strict time limits in place, it’s important to seek legal assistance as soon as possible.