Although the law is nearing 100 years old, the Miller Act is still a crucial tool that regulates payments on federal construction projects and helps subcontractors get paid. If you meet the prerequisites and can get the proper paperwork filed within set deadlines, pursuing a Miller Act claim can ensure you receive the payment you are owed for providing work and materials.
What You Need to Know About the Miller Act
The provisions of the Miller Act kick in if any federal project’s construction or improvement cost will exceed $100,000. If that threshold is met, then the prime or general contractor must provide performance and payment bonds to ensure sub-contractors are eventually paid. The Act is primarily meant to help either subcontractors or suppliers performing work on federal buildings like courthouses, prisons, military bases, or other locations designated for government use.
There are extremely strict requirements you need to know about if you are planning on trying to file a Miller Act claim or pursue a lawsuit for recovering payment, however. Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know:
- Only applies to federal projects
- Isn’t applicable to any private construction, commercial building projects, or even state or local government funded-projects
- Doesn’t apply to general contractors
- Can only be used by first-tier contractors, second-tier subcontractors, or suppliers of the general contractor
- Not applicable to third-tier or lower parties involved in the construction project
- You must have furnished either materials or labor to the project within the last 90 days
It’s important to understand that the Miller Act specifically isn’t useful for prime contractors struggling to recover payment for government projects. If you are the prime contractor and haven’t been paid by the federal government, you should speak with a construction litigation attorney about pursuing a lawsuit for recovering costs through methods other than the Miller Act.
How to Pursue a Miller Act Claim in Louisiana
If you were involved in providing materials or workers within the last three months but haven’t been paid by the primary contractor, you have the option to pursue a claim. It will have to come from the bonding company, however, rather than the contractor.
It’s also crucial to take specific steps within limited timeframes for the best shot at having a claim approved. If you need to enforce a claim for your work, be sure to contact an attorney for assistance in:
- Providing notice of a Miller Act claim to the prime contractor within the 90-day timeframe using either certified mail or some other means that provides written confirmation the document was delivered.
- Sending the same notice to the surety bonding company used by the prime contractor on the project (in some cases, you or your attorney may need to submit a request to find out which company is handling the Miller Act-required bond).
- Fill out a claim form for the surety, including all the relevant information about your lack of payment, such as a copy of your contract, emails and other communications with the prime contractor, delivery receipts, purchase orders, and so on.
- Receiving a payment or rejection notice from the surety.
- Filing a lawsuit within one year of your final furnishing of materials for the project if the claim was rejected but you are still owed money.
When a claim is incorrectly rejected, a lawsuit can be filed against the bond set up by the contractor, rather than the actual construction company itself. That lawsuit must be filed in federal court within the jurisdiction of the project, and requires the assistance of a skilled construction litigation lawyer with experience in government projects.
Get Help From a Legal Professional With Your Miller Act Claim Questions
If you are a subcontractor or supplier on a federal government construction project and you haven’t been paid what you are owed, contact the Scott Vicknair law firm today. We want to hear about your potential Miller Act claim and find out how to help your company move forward towards successful compensation for your work.