Attorneys Do you have and have you had to use them?

Merry Christmas

OK Sparky 93

Member
Location
Iridea14Strat
Occupation
Electrician
One of my first jobs, definitely a learning experience. I hope I can walk away with the experience that I could be better discerning of my customers. Don't want it don’t need it!
Also to make my invoice say payable upon receipt.
I gave 15 days, because that’s how my previous employer done.

My pocket isn’t deep enough yet.
I am anticipating I’m going to have problems, and trying to be prepared.

For $2000 $400 for materials 22 hours. Would one seek the advice or help from an attorney?

And /or file a lien?

Any other Marines out there, if so if not
Semper Fi!
 

Little Bill

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Tennessee NEC:2017
Occupation
Electrician
If it's not a large sum worth hiring an attorney, you could do as I did to collect from a "bad paying" customer.
I talked with my attorney friend about the two jobs that the guy owed me for. He was a contractor and I was a sub. My attorney said on one of the jobs I couldn't file a lien on the homeowner since I wasn't working for them directly. But the other job was on commercial property and I could file a lien. If you file on a contractor on commercial property, word gets out fast and the contractor won't get hired for other jobs.

He advised me to allow him to write a letter to the contractor advising him of our intent to file a lien. I had my money (for both jobs) in a couple of days. Only cost me a small fee, which I was glad to pay.

So you may be able to hire an attorney for a small task without going full out court case!
 
I got screwed twice. Once was for only like 3500, but I went after them with a lawyer just over the principle of it. I got the money but it took me 2k to collect it. The other time was 15k and I didnt go after it, mainly because it was out of state, quite a bit of time had elapsed, and the permit for the job wasnt in my name, so it would have been a huge hassle and probably a difficult case.

Taking people to court often isnt worth the hassle, plus even if you win, you cant squeeze water from a stone. I think generally a lien is your best hope as it often scares people into paying. Be aware of your lien laws thought, in most places you dont have that much time to file after your last appearance on the job site. Also keep in mind most people dont fully understand how a lien works. It is only good for a certain period of time before it expires, then you must foreclose on it - it doesnt remain there in perpetuity. Foreclosing means going to court with lawyers and you are into that mess again.

For any legal action you may be able to sue for your costs, but not always

Bottom line, have a detailed contract signed that accurately describes the scope of work and the terms and that they will be legal fees. I still dont have my customers sign anything so do as I say not as I do ;)
 

gadfly56

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Professional Engineer, Fire & Life Safety
I got screwed twice. Once was for only like 3500, but I went after them with a lawyer just over the principle of it. I got the money but it took me 2k to collect it. The other time was 15k and I didnt go after it, mainly because it was out of state, quite a bit of time had elapsed, and the permit for the job wasnt in my name, so it would have been a huge hassle and probably a difficult case.

Taking people to court often isnt worth the hassle, plus even if you win, you cant squeeze water from a stone. I think generally a lien is your best hope as it often scares people into paying. Be aware of your lien laws thought, in most places you dont have that much time to file after your last appearance on the job site. Also keep in mind most people dont fully understand how a lien works. It is only good for a certain period of time before it expires, then you must foreclose on it - it doesnt remain there in perpetuity. Foreclosing means going to court with lawyers and you are into that mess again.

For any legal action you may be able to sue for your costs, but not always

Bottom line, have a detailed contract signed that accurately describes the scope of work and the terms and that they will be legal fees. I still dont have my customers sign anything so do as I say not as I do ;)
Just beware that for residential properties you may be required to file a "notice of intent to lien". If you don't, it will boomerang on you and you'll be out your money plus a bunch of damages and fees. That's how it is in NJ.

 
Just beware that for residential properties you may be required to file a "notice of intent to lien". If you don't, it will boomerang on you and you'll be out your money plus a bunch of damages and fees. That's how it is in NJ.

Yeah I dont think we have that here in NY, lots of state differences. Definitely check your state's lien laws.
 

Todd0x1

Senior Member
Location
CA
One thing to check, is how are attorneys fees handled in your contract? Many contracts have provisions adding attorneys fees on top of anything else owed or recovered. In those instances attorneys will take them on contingency, and often a letter stating "look you can pay the 2k you owe right now, or its going to turn into 40K by the time we have a judgment against you" will get you paid.
 

MyCleveland

Senior Member
Location
Cleveland, Ohio
The few times I actually had a signed “contract”, there was a final line that stated something to the effect….for every month not paid a charge of 1.5% would be added to the balance.
Well, I had an out of town architect that somehow I insulted an he refused to pay. I turned it over to a collection agency. They hounded this guy for 2 plus years and he tried everything in court he could. Finally paid and I received about 70% what I was owed because of the 1.5% monthly compounding.
 

DrSparks

The Everlasting Know-it-all!
Location
Madison, WI, USA
Occupation
Master Electrician and General Contractor
There is a cost for the collection service. You wouldn't expect them to work for nothing, would you?
They usually tack that on top of the principal. You are allowed to recover attorneys fees.

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Daolin

Member
Location
North East Florida
Occupation
Electrician
Recently had the issue here with some small amounts $1500. Found out that my best bet now is pull a permit, don't get final inspection until it is paid in full. IF they don't pay, the permit stays on there. If they ever go to refinance or anything a title agency pulls the county record and sees an open permit. Can't start any process until all open permits are closed.

Reason I know, did a job for a guy 6 years ago and he didn't pay me. 6 years later I was asked to close the permit, I said when he pays me my money I will. I got a check :)
 

MyCleveland

Senior Member
Location
Cleveland, Ohio
Recently had the issue here with some small amounts $1500. Found out that my best bet now is pull a permit, don't get final inspection until it is paid in full. IF they don't pay, the permit stays on there. If they ever go to refinance or anything a title agency pulls the county record and sees an open permit. Can't start any process until all open permits are closed.

Reason I know, did a job for a guy 6 years ago and he didn't pay me. 6 years later I was asked to close the permit, I said when he pays me my money I will. I got a check :)
Daolin
Sad topic but unfortunately we all typically fall into these situations.

I am glad you received your money, but I don’t believe I would pay anyone in full knowing the work had not passed inspection.
 
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