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The Complete and Accepted Work Doctrine and Construction Defects

August 16, 2012 — CDJ Staff

Matthew C. Bouchard of Lewis & Roberts PLLC, writes how North Carolina is “bucking the trend” on the “complete and accepted work doctrine.” As he notes, in most states “a contractor can be found liable for personal injuries suffered by third parties from accidents occurring after the contractor’s work is completed and accepted.” But one exception is North Carolina.

He gives the example of a case, Lamb v. D.S. Duggins Welding, Inc., in which a site superintendent was “injured by the alleged negligence of the project’s steel deck installer, a sub-subcontractor in the contractual chain” “after the sub-sub’s work had been completed and accepted.” The trial court held that the “completed and accepted work doctrine” ended the subcontractor’s liability. The case noted that “employees of the general contractor had modified the installation of the perimeter safety cable in question after the sub-sub had demobilized from the site.”

Mr. Bouchard notes that “once a project is accepted and turned over, the contractor typically loses control over maintenance of the new facility.” However, he notes that “where the contractor’s work constitutes negligence ?Ķ the doctrine may not apply.” Nor does it end breach of contract claims. It only covers third parties.

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The Complete and Accepted Work Doctrine and Construction Defects