The construction industry is known to be one of the most dangerous industries due to its unpredictable nature. One mistake can cause massive accidents, damages, and even severe injuries in the construction work site.
In its most recent session, the Texas legislature passed several laws that make doing business in the state easier for construction professionals. These laws aim to add protection for contractors who continue to work during the pandemic, reduce liability in specific cases, and more.
New Laws that Will Affect Construction Work in Texas
Here are the laws that will greatly affect contractors who work in Texas:
SB 219: Contractors Not Liable for Design Defects
Back in 1907, the Texas case Lonergan v. San Antonio Loan & Trust held the contractor accountable for the work completed under a faulty design. The reasoning behind this is that contractors have more experience and expertise in construction than the owners.
In most states, contractors are typically not held liable if they complete work under the owner’s design. But due to the 1907 case Lonergan v. San Antonio Loan & Trust case in Texas, SB219 has to correct this legal doctrine.
However, keep in mind that this does not apply if the contractor provides the defective design.
HB 2237: Simplifying Texas Lien Laws
Texas’ lien laws are considered to be one of the most complex in the United States. HB 2237 is created to modernize and simplify these laws. It simplifies notice requirements, decreases unforgiving deadlines, revises statutory definitions of important terms like “labor” and “subcontractor”, addresses procedural issues, etc.
HB2237 makes it easier for contractors to file liens since a lot of vague details are removed or clarified. HB 2237 will be effective on January 1, 2022.
SB 968: Protection Against Pandemic-Related Issues
This law prohibits a presiding authority from limiting or stopping activities related to housing and commercial development projects. It also offers to protect suppliers and other businesses that provide supply services to the construction industry.
SB 6: Insurance Protection Laws for Contractors During the Pandemic
SB 6 protects essential businesses that continued to work during the COVID-19 pandemic from liabilities for personal injury, death, or property damage related to the virus. But keep in mind that this law does not apply in cases where a business or a company failed or intentionally did not comply with government health standards. It also does not apply if the company failed to warn a worker about the condition that led to them contracting the disease.
HB 3069: Reduced Statute Repose for Public Construction Work
HB 3069 reduces the time for which a contractor can be sued for defective infrastructure. It is now shortened from 10 years to eight years from the date of completion. This house bill also shortens the possible two-year extension to just one year.
This law does not apply to state highway projects, projects financed with the state highway fund, projects financed by federal funds for highways or transit, or civil work projects.
SB 338: Standardized General Conditions for School Building Construction Projects
SB 338 revises the Texas Education code and now allows school districts to utilize uniform general conditions. These conditions will be incorporated into all state-administered district construction contracts. SB 338 aims to make the construction process easier for both contractors and schools.
HB 2416: Clarifying Attorney’s Fee Liability
HB 2416 requires the insurance company to pay the prevailing party’s attorney’s fees instead of holding the contractor responsible for that expense. This house bill may entail a higher insurance premium, however, it is useful in case a contractor is held liable for an incident in the workplace.
HB 19: Reformation of Litigation Abuse Regarding Commercial Vehicle Accidents:
HB 19 gives motor carriers some time to file a motion seeking a bifurcated trial in case of a commercial vehicle accident. The trial can be split into two phases wherein the first trial phase determines the driver’s liability and the number of compensatory damages. Whereas the second trial phase determines the motor carrier’s direct liability.
HB 19 aims to discourage frivolous lawsuits in transportation-related industries, such as construction, which frequently involves the use of heavy machinery like cranes, lifts, and hoist equipment.
Keep in mind that this article only contains the summary for each law. It is important to further check the details and exceptions for each of these legislation. Nevertheless, each one of these laws aims to improve the construction process, especially for contractors.