Bringing a Claim Against a Contractor’s Payment Bond

Back to Articles List

If you are a subcontractor or supplier on a public works project and you have not been paid, you may file a claim against the general contractor’s payment bond. This process is described in RCW 39.08.

Pursuant to RCW 39.08, all general contractors on public works projects are required to obtain a payment bond ensuring that the contractor will pay all laborers, mechanics, subcontractors and material suppliers. If the owner of the project fails to obtain a payment bond from the contractor, then the owner will be liable for any payment claim that arises. The amount of the payment bond must equal the full contract price.

To file a claim against a contractor’s payment bond, a claimant must first file a pre-claim notice. This pre-claim notice must be mailed or delivered in person to the contractor within 10 days after the claimant first delivers the supplies or materials. If a claimant fails to meet the 10 day time limitation, then they will lose rights to pursue a claim against the bond.

This pre-claim notice must be in the form provided for in RCW 39.08.065. The pre-claim notice must be in writing and state that 1) such person, firm or corporation has commenced to deliver materials, supplies, or provisions for use thereon, 2) the name of the subcontractor or agent ordering or to whom the same is furnished and 3) that such contractor and his or her bond will be held for payment of the same.

If a claimant only has performed labor on the project, and did not furnish materials or supplies, then they do not need to give the pre-claim notice.

The claimant has thirty days after the contractor completes the contract work and the owner accepts the project to file notice of a claim against the payment bond. The form of notice must be pursuant to RCW 39.08.030. The claimant will lose its right to make a claim against the payment bond if the notice is not filed within the 30 days. The claimant is allowed to seek costs and attorney fees.

If the notice has been properly filed, the claimant may then file a lawsuit against the payment bond. The statute does not set a time limitation on the claimant’s right to file against the bond. Any time limit for filing against the bond will be contained in the provisions 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.