Colorado Construction Defects Attorneys – Burg Simpson

How to Choose a Construction Defect Lawyer

Become an Educated Consumer
You must become an educated consumer before choosing a lawyer. Do not accept, without confirmation, a lawyer’s self-serving description of what he or she has done in the past. Be careful of exaggerated suggestions of what you might be able to obtain through suit.

A Lawyer Shouldn’t Rush You Into a Lawsuit
Absent exceptional circumstances, such as the possible running of a statute of limitations or other deadline, no lawyer should rush you to the courthouse steps and into a lawsuit. If you have not tried to work things out with your builder-developer, your lawyer should nearly always recommend that you, sometimes with the lawyer’s assistance, try to work things out informally. If possible, and if it will not prejudice your legal rights, give the builder-developer the chance to do the right thing before you get involved in expensive, lengthy, and emotionally draining litigation. (Because the law now requires homeowners and builders to engage in a mandatory “Notice of Claim” process before a construction defect suit is filed, you may, unfortunately, need to consult with an attorney regarding compliance with these laws.)

If your home problems are serious and may lead to a lawsuit if not properly addressed by those responsible, our firm can help guide homeowners and homeowner associations through the Notice of Claim process, sometimes for a reduced or no charge.

Hands-On Experience
The lawyer should be experienced in dealing with the kinds of problems you face. You should find out the names of cases that your attorney has actually tried to a jury in Colorado, either individually or as part of a trial team, and who he or she represented in those lawsuits. Many people assume that simply because a lawyer says he or she is a “trial” attorney that the lawyer has lots of trial experience.

Realistic Expectations
Be careful of lawyers who brag about the “exceptional” settlements they have obtained, and find out how many of these settlements occurred in Colorado. Most consumers are not given enough facts or do not have the experience to judge whether a particular dollar-amount settlement was a good or bad result even when the settlement is in the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. Sometimes a lawyer may tout a large judgment he or she obtained, and even issue self-serving “press releases” about it, but not tell you that the judgment remains mostly unpaid because of the lawyer’s failure to properly investigate the availability of insurance coverage or the defendants’ financial capabilities. No one wants to become involved in a drawn-out lawsuit, go to trial, obtain a judgment, and end up holding an “empty bag,” unable to repair serious construction problems because there is no insurance money or assets to pay off the judgment.

Unfortunately, sometimes a homeowner or homeowner association’s time and money is better spent trying to fix what they can afford to fix rather than chasing an uninsured or “empty shell” defendant through the legal system: Your lawyer should have the courage to tell you this rather than recommend a lawsuit that is more likely to benefit the lawyer than the client.

References

A lawyer should be willing and able to provide you with references. Some lawyers ingratiate themselves with certain associations or trade organizations (such as consumer groups or property management associations) by making substantial monetary contributions to those groups. References by such organizations may be a useful tool, but they should not be your only tool. Another good source for references is a local attorney who has worked against the lawyer you are considering hiring, as well as the lawyer’s former clients. If your homeowner association lawyer makes a referral, find out if they have any current, or have been promised any sort of, “fee-sharing” arrangement with the law firm to whom they have referred you. Such “fee-sharing” arrangements can create conflicts of interest that need to be explored.

Insurance Knowledge
Because many construction defect cases involve complex insurance coverage issues, it is necessary that your attorney have an excellent understanding of these issues. Previous experience suing insurance companies, familiarity with the insurance industry and its practices, and knowledge of the hyper-technical provisions of insurance policies are needed for a lawyer to competently represent homeowners and homeowner associations in construction defect litigation. Does the law firm you are interviewing have lawyers whose practice focuses on insurance issues? Do those lawyers have demonstrated expertise in insurance and construction defects law, as reflected in their writing articles and books for, and giving speeches or teaching continuing legal education classes to, fellow lawyers?

Interview More Than One Lawyer
You should interview more than one lawyer no matter how impressed you may be with the first lawyer you meet or their website, or how highly recommended that lawyer may be. You should discuss what is expected of you as a client, how expensive, stressful, and time-consuming any proposed litigation may be, and what fee arrangements are available. Lawyers who suggest that you not interview other lawyers, or who say that if you do so they will not provide you legal services, who or falsely suggest they may be “booked up” by the time you make your decision are suspect and may be violating Colorado’s ethics rules in making these statements.

“Plan B” Settlement Experience
Homeowner associations and individual homeowners should try to work out problems with builders and developers. The lawyer you hire should be experienced with what is sometimes referred to as “Plan B” settlements, which typically involve roundtable meetings of construction professionals in an effort to develop a reasonable repair plan to be funded by those responsible for creating the construction problems. Your lawyers should demonstrate sufficient construction knowledge so that, in close consultation with your construction advisers, they can try to help ensure that the “Plan B” process is not misused to make “band-aid” repairs that may come back to haunt the owners years later.

Accessibility
Most construction defect cases are fairly complex, and often require a team of legal professionals and independent experts to supply the necessary legal and litigation support services. It may be unreasonable to expect any single law firm attorney to be involved in or be familiar with every detail of a complicated case. Often the trial of the lawsuit itself is a team effort. Because different courts sometimes schedule separate lawsuits being handled by the same law firm at the same time, and an attorney cannot be in two places at once, there can be no guarantee that the lawyer you were expecting to try your case will definitely do so. You should satisfy yourself that, if the attorney who you are anticipating trying your case is unable to do so, you have confidence in other law firm attorneys to do so.

Your phone calls and questions should be answered within a reasonable time, and you should be able to discuss your case and concerns directly with the lead responsible attorney or attorneys without undue delay.

Suit Cost Advances
While lawyers are allowed to advance litigation costs on behalf of clients, and our law firm frequently does this, any lawyer who takes your case and tells you that you are under no legal obligation to repay those costs to his or her firm may be violating Colorado’s ethics rules. Colorado’s ethics rules allow law firms to elect to receive repayment of costs contingent on the outcome of the lawsuit only from the proceeds of a lawsuit without the client having to personally reimburse those costs out of the client’s pocket.

Check with the firm’s former clients: Was the firm willing to make the necessary investment to properly prepare the case for effective settlement discussions and a powerful trial presentation, or did it attempt to work the case up “on the cheap”? Most medium to large multifamily cases require many hundreds of thousands of dollars in expert witness investigation, testing and report writing expenses, as well as the expense of deposing the other sides’ experts and other important witnesses.

Alternate Fee Arrangements
Explore alternate fee arrangements with your attorney and choose the one that best fits your needs. Some law firms who work on a contingency fee basis may also be available to work on an hourly rate or fixed-fee basis. However, no law firm is obligated to provide legal services on any case with which it chooses not to become involved for whatever reason.

Be Comfortable With and Confident in Your Lawyer and Law Firm
In the end, you should satisfy yourself that your lawyer is smart, experienced, understanding, respected in the profession, and ethical-and that you are comfortable putting your trust in that person’s and the law firm’s hands.

Gov. Hickenlooper Signs Workers Comp PTSD Bill Into Law

 June 8, 2017

Gov. Hickenlooper Signs Workers Comp PTSD Bill Into Law

The third time’s the charm for PTSD relief for Colorado’s first responders. After a pair of failed attempts over the past few years, the legislature finally sent a bill to the governor this year that would allow first responders to apply for mental impairment claim under Colorado workers’ compensation law after a “psychologically traumatic event.”… Read more »

Michael Burg Blasts Big Pharma

 June 6, 2017

Michael Burg Blasts Big Pharma

The political environment in DC couldn’t be better for Big Pharma. And it’s about to get worse, which is what worries Burg Simpson co-founder Michael S. Burg. “Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the newly appointed commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, is so financially tied to Big Pharma that he could not possibly be a reliable… Read more »

Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine Selected to the Legal 500 List For 2017

 May 31, 2017

Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine Selected to the Legal 500 List For 2017

This Year Marks the Sixth Time the Denver-Based Law Firm Has Been Named to the Prestigious List May 29, 2017 (Denver, CO) – Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine, one of America’s foremost plaintiff trial firms, is proud to announce it has been selected to The Legal 500 for 2017 and founding shareholder Michael S…. Read more »

Nick D. Fogel Earns Workers’ Comp Honor

 May 24, 2017

Nick D. Fogel Earns Workers’ Comp Honor

The awards just keep coming in for the attorneys at Burg Simpson. The Professionals in Workers’ Compensation (PWC) named shareholder Nick D. Fogel the 2016 Outstanding Claimant Attorney of the Year. Nick is Burg Simpson’s workers’ compensation department head and has extensive experience working with clients who’ve been injured at work. “I was humbled and… Read more »

Construction Defects Reform - Denver Construction Defect Attorneys – Burg Simpson

 May 12, 2017

Colorado Lawmakers Wrestle with Construction Defects

Colorado’s had one of the hottest home building markets in the country for several years now. But that rosy picture’s been marred by a single stain: condominiums. Ten years ago, condos made up about 20 percent of all new builds in Colorado. Today, they make up only about 3 percent of new residential construction. Where… Read more »

Colorado Municipal Ordinances - construction defect lawyer Colorado - Burg Simpson

 March 27, 2017

Burg Simpson Construction Defect Group Discusses Colorado Municipal Ordinances

Ronald Sandgrund (Of Counsel), along with Associates Jennifer Seidman, Leslie Tuft and Nelson Boyle of the Burg Simpson Construction Defect Group have co-authored a three-part article in The Colorado Lawyer, the Colorado Bar Association’s monthly law journal. The article discusses the many recently enacted construction defect Colorado municipal ordinances (CD ordinances), including their right-of-repair, HOA… Read more »

Defective Aluminum–Clad Windows Mean Trouble for Homeowners

 July 8, 2016

Defective Aluminum–Clad Windows Mean Trouble for Homeowners

When you buy or build a home you don’t expect your windows to be defective. Thousands of homeowners nationwide, however, may have defective aluminum-clad windows installed in their homes. Unfortunately, many of these homeowners are in the dark about the cause of their problem until after spending thousands of dollars replacing windows they shouldn’t have… Read more »

Burg Simpson Attorney Scott Sullan Discusses Colorado Springs Landslides

 April 29, 2016

Burg Simpson Attorney Scott Sullan Discusses Colorado Springs Landslides

The recent Colorado Springs landslides have prompted questions and concerns from local homeowners. The Gazette is publishing a special report about the landslide hazards in Colorado Springs and what, if anything is being done about them. As part of this special report, The Gazette recently interviewed Burg Simpson construction defects attorney Scott Sullan about important… Read more »

Ring of Fire: Even Republicans Are Disgusted by The Republican Party

 May 3, 2016

Ring of Fire: Even Republicans Are Disgusted by The Republican Party

A Ring of Fire first! Host Farron Cousins talks to former Senator Alan Simpson in a unique opportunity on Ring of Fire to speak with a Republican about the current state of the Republican Party.

CBS 4: Michael Burg Inducted to Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame

 April 28, 2016

CBS 4: Michael Burg Inducted to Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame

CBS 4 in Denver highlights Burg Simpson attorney Michael S. Burg’s induction into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame

Radio 850KOA: Michael Burg Inducted to Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame

 April 28, 2016

Radio 850KOA: Michael Burg Inducted to Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame

Denver’s Radio 850KOA ran a news story about Michael Burg’s induction into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame.

Burg Simpson Legal Minute: Civil Justice System

 April 21, 2016

Burg Simpson Legal Minute: Civil Justice System

Burg Simpson shareholder Calvin Tregre Jr. examines changes to the civil justice system, where limitations have been placed on monetary awards to seriously injured victims of corporate negligence. Are you protected?

Trial Talk magazine

 November 18, 2015

Trial Talk: Cross Appeal? Now What?

Burg Simpson Attorney and Shareholder Diane Vaksdal Smith’s article, published in CTLA’s Trial Talk, April/May 2015, addresses specifics of appellate practice and procedure. Download full article PDF

Net Neutrality

 November 18, 2015

Net Neutrality: A Panel Discussion

Rick D. Bailey contributes his opinion on Net Neutrality in this panel article published in Best Lawyers® Business Edition, Summer, 2015. Download full article PDF

The Trial Lawyer Magazine

 November 18, 2015

Homebuilders v. Homeowners

Threats to Shift an Already Tilted Playing Field More in Favor of Homebuilders Burg Simpson attorneys Jennifer A. Seidman and Ronald M. Sandgrund examine what could happen if lawmakers allow builders to take advantage of and mischaracterize the causes of the Great Recession’s lingering effects, and the facts regarding the real causes of the decline… Read more »

Rick Bailey - Hearing and Mishearing

 November 18, 2015

Hearing and Mishearing: Psychoanalytic Observations on the Attorney-Client Relationship

Trial lawyer Rick D. Bailey co-authored this white paper with David Stevens, a practicing psychoanalyst/clinical psychologist and associate professor at the university of Colorado Health Sciences Center. They address the attorney-client relationship throught the lens of psychoanalysis and cognitive neuroscience. Download full article PDF

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