Attorney Fees on Bond Claims
As I indicated in previous posts, if you are a homeowner and file suit against a contractor in Washington, you can attach their contractor’s registration bond. This bond will be $12,000.00 if the contractor is a general contractor and $6,000.00 if the contractor is a specialty contract. A specialty contractor is a contractor that only does one trade. For instance, a plumber or an electrician. A general contract is able to do more than one trade, for instance, a home builder. If you have any doubts about whether your contractor has a $12,000.00 or $6,000.00 registration bond, you can look it up here: https://secure.lni.wa.gov/verify/. You can also verify whether any other action has been filed against the bond.
A question that comes up is if, and to what extent, you can claim attorney fees on a contractor’s bond. If your contract with the contractor does not have an attorney fees provision, you can still claim attorney fees against the bond up to the amount of the bond (i.e., $12,000.00 or $6,000.00 depending on the bond). The appropriate statute here is RCW 18.27.040(6). Any fees and costs awarded under RCW 18.27.040(6) are only available as against the surety and not the contractor and even then, only up to the amount otherwise available on the bond. Cosmopolitan Engineering Group, Inc. v. Ondeo Degremont, Inc., 159 Wn. 2d 292 (2006); Brotherton v. Kralman Steel Structures, Inc., 165 Wn.App. 727 (2011). In short, you can claim attorney fees up to the amount of the bond and collect them against the surety (the issuer of the bond) and not the contractor.
Again, if you have an attorney fees provision in your contract (which is common) you can claim attorney fees against the contractor and you are not limited by the amount of the bond.
Legal Disclaimer: The information on this page does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as each situation is fact specific and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. The information on this page is solely for the purpose of legal education and is intended to only provide general information about the matters stated therein. The information on this page should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in the subject area of the matters stated therein. No attorney-client relationship is formed without an actual agreement confirmed in writing. I am licensed only in Washington and Oregon.