Episode 719: Angela Bajramaj, JD – Insights into Restoration Law!

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Episode 719: Angela Bajramaj, JD – Insights into Restoration Law!

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Show Resources: Show Discussion:

12:04:19 From William Heemer : The Absolute Pollution Exclusion
12:06:22 From Todd Benson : Reacted to "The Absolute Polluti..." with 👍
12:06:36 From Don Weekes : Reacted to "The Absolute Polluti..." with 👍
12:07:11 From cliff zlotnik : neither pollution exclusion or absolute pollution exclusion are what we are looking for
12:08:55 From Thea Tapson : Can you repeat the question in the chat for those of us who missed it?
12:09:03 From Don Weekes : Cliff: Please post on chat what you stated for trivia.
12:09:25 From Ed Light : Hi. Angela.
12:12:44 From cliff zlotnik : QUESTION name the insurance policy exclusion which eliminates virtually all coverage for pollution incidents, including those retained under the standard Commercial Liability policy?
12:15:04 From Don Weekes : (ISO), total pollution exclusion endorsements (CG 21 49, CG 21 55, and CG 21 65) remove coverage for bodily injury (BI) or property damage that "would not have occurred in whole or part but for" a pollution incident.
12:15:36 From cliff zlotnik : correct Don!
12:15:52 From Dania Trenchs : What’s the name of the book?
12:16:38 From Dania Trenchs : Thank you
12:21:05 From Ed Light : (excuse my digital hiccup-previous message) My impression is that mold and IAQ litigation is way down in the last few years- what do you think, Angela? This appears to be responsible for the diminishment of my consulting business, which is: (a) assisting owners and contractors with science-based solutions to problems in the field; and (b) Expert witness for both defense and plaintiffs. Do companies feel less pressure now to fully resolve restoration issues?
12:22:15 From Thea Tapson : https://edcross.com/restoration-collections-book/
12:22:28 From Thea Tapson : https://edcross.com/product/toolkit
12:22:37 From Thea Tapson : toolkit looks excellent
12:23:20 From Don Weekes : Wow, 74 attendees! Record?
12:23:41 From Don Weekes : Now 77!
12:23:43 From Thea Tapson : thats because we want to get paid!
12:27:34 From Cole W.D. Stanton : Reacted to "thats because we wan..." with 👍
12:29:08 From Lisa Martin Complete Flood Restoration : Replying to "thats because we wan..."

Thank you for the F-9 notes you shared in the Rebels group!
12:29:20 From William Heemer : Total Pollution Exclusion (modern name)
12:33:42 From Business Interruption Guy : If a lien is needed, what is the time it takes from payment date on the invoice to actual money in the bank?
12:34:30 From Dania Trenchs : Is there benefit in terms of faster payout to become a contracted/preferred vendor for insurance companies. Is there a benefit to pursuing this avenue. I work with two different companies (vendors) and one has and the other has not. But their collections process is different so it’s difficult to compare. What do you think?
12:35:24 From gmaloney : E mail
12:35:24 From Todd Benson : Great question!
12:35:42 From gmaloney : Gary Maloney gary@nuyale.com
12:35:43 From Todd Benson : Need dollar amount in California (not legal advice)
12:44:12 From Ivana Barberis : How would you respond to an insurance adjuster offering the same amount for our invoices every time, no matter the invoice amount? Could you argue the adjuster is negotiating in bad faith?
12:48:16 From Dania Trenchs : Also, what are the benefits of a COI and should I be providing one to EVERY single customer or just HOAs and commercial projects ? I hear a lot of different stances on this.
12:52:36 From Ivana Barberis : Thank you!
12:53:48 From Todd Benson : For contracts and pertaining to the question of Work Auth suffiency. Contracts need specific dollar amounts in California. (Not legal advice)
12:57:41 From Dania Trenchs : When is this event? What is it called, how can I attend?
12:58:02 From Dania Trenchs : Oh noooo
12:59:16 From Don Weekes : Did hit 80 attendees at one point.
12:59:48 From Todd Benson : Reacted to "Did hit 80 attendees..." with ❤️
13:01:17 From Bill Pockels : Is anyone acquainted with Steve Yeretzian of Restoration Specialists? He gave a presentation for the NJAIHA local section on restoration at one our monthly dinner meetings.
13:03:34 From Bill Pockels : Does anyone think that Pete can repeat his questions?🙂
13:06:52 From brian : can someone spell that?
13:09:10 From Dania Trenchs : I work for two different companies, one who provides a certificate of insurance to almost all customers and one who does not provide it to any. Is this a standard practice for liability protection or does it not work in all cases? Should I be providing a Certificate of Insurance to ALL customers or just when asked for one?
13:10:49 From Andrew Gondzur (he/him) : Reacted to "I work for two diffe..." with 👍
13:11:19 From Wynn L. White, P.E. : Great program! Gotta run.
13:14:28 From Dania Trenchs : Thank you!
13:14:39 From Lisa Martin Complete Flood Restoration : Lots of great info! TY
13:14:42 From Todd Benson : Excellence!
13:15:50 From Lisa Martin Complete Flood Restoration : I'm going to the preconfrerence bootcamp
13:16:14 From brian : Thanks all!
13:16:23 From William Heemer : Great job Angela!
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CliffZ
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Re: Episode 719: Angela Bajramaj, JD – Insights into Restoration Law!

Post by CliffZ »

IAQ RADIO

Show Number: 719
Angela Bajramaj, JD
Insights into Restoration Law!


Good Day and welcome to the IAQ Radio+ episode 719 blog. This week we welcomed Attorney Angela Bajramaj for a show titled “Insights into Restoration Law”. Angela dove into the complexities and nuances of the construction and restoration industry from both legal and contractors perspective. We discussed common legal issues faced by professionals in the field and she sharing her expert insights on how to navigate these challenges effectively, with a focus on what restorers can do to maximize their collections. Whether you're a contractor, a business owner, or simply interested in the subject, this show provided valuable information and tips to help you stay ahead of the legal curve.

Angela Bajramaj is an attorney, licensed contractor, and a passionate advocate for restorers. Prior to joining Ed Cross as his law partner in May of 2023, Angela served as Corporate Counsel for Belfor Property Restoration for eight years, where she oversaw U.S. collections, managed dispute resolution, and designed and implemented solutions to regulatory issues. Following Hurricane Ian, Angela served with Belfor’s first response team, which helped further foster a deep understanding of the unique and profound challenges that restoration contractors
face.

Angela is a graduate of Wayne State University of Law School with a Juris Doctorate Degree, and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Wisconsin – Madison. She is one of the few female lawyers in the United States who holds a Residential Builder License. Prior to becoming an attorney, Angela worked in the construction industry in her family’s contracting business for almost 20 years.

Nuggets mined from today’s episode:

Please tell us a bit about your background and how you got interested in construction and restoration? Angela grew up in a family that was in the construction field. In 1998, Angela and her husband entered the construction field together when they started a painting business. Things went well, customers paid and the business grew until 2008 when the business hit a brick wall due to the Great Recession. The business took a big hit when their biggest customers didn’t or couldn’t pay. Angela realized that part of their business problem was inadequate contracts and processes. Angela decided to change professions and decided to go to law school. Her husband wasn’t confident that she would become an attorney because she couldn’t lie.
After law school, Angela practiced law in a small firm. An employment recruiter approached her regarding an opportunity to work for Belfor, the world’s largest restoration firm. Angela went to work for Belfor, where she had the opportunity to work alongside and learn from great people. While at Belfor, she fell in love with the restoration industry, especially the restorers who worked hard and willingly sacrificed family time to help their clients put damaged homes and businesses back together

What is your area of specialization within the group? Collections. The biggest challenge for most restoration companies is collecting their accounts receivable. While at Belfor, Angela had the opportunity to observe the effectiveness of various legal collection strategies. Some of her takeaways were: 1) you need to know who you are working for, 90% of the collection process occurs after the contract is signed and the job is done. 2) Consistently communicating, provide frequent work/progress updates, promptly send invoices, be persistent and follow-up on the payments until money comes through the door.

What are the biggest collection mistakes that restoration contractors commonly make? Poor communication. Identify the MIPs (materially interested parties) and communicate regularly and systematically. Clients are often fearful and traumatized by their damaged property, set realistic expectations, keep customers happy, happy customers are paying customers. Mention the potential impact of deliverables for which others are responsible on the project. Frequently mention the expectation that you will be paid. Recommends purchase of the Restoration Collections Book. https://edcross.com/restoration-collections-book/

In your experience, how effective have you found mechanic’s liens to be? Liens are one of the most effective tools for getting paid. Whether or not to file a lien should be decided on a case-by-case basis. Liening a property is a 2 step process: the first deadline begins on the last day of work, you have so many days to record a lien. The second deadline is so many days to file suit in court. Giving notice to the property owner is also required. In some jurisdictions, the contract will serve as notice.
Liens may adversely effect, business credit lines connected to maintaining sufficient equity. Lien laws vary by state. States take lien rights very seriously. Liens can be tricky, for instance if you are working for a General Contractor as a subcontractor on a project you don’t have a direct relationship with the property owner. BE AWARE how state lien laws may differ from your normal business procedures.
Residential lien statutes may require different notification mechanisms.
Can restoration firms who provide cleaning services only put mechanics liens on the property on which they work? This is dependent upon applicable statutes and court interpretations. Liens often require physical improvement to the property. Structural drying prevents fungal amplification and material degradation, which arguably improve property while janitorial cleaning does not. A lien may be applicable for delivery of materials or creation of architectural plans. Lien may not be applicable for consulting services.

Has the volume of mold litigation declined significantly? Yes, this is partially due to causation being harder to prove.

What recourse does a restorer have when working with independent adjusters who don’t have authority to issue drafts or ensure that the restorer’s firm name appears on the check? Insurance companies ate big, powerful and have the second strongest lobby, second only to big pharma. We recommend that restorers use an AOB (assignment of benefits) and provide notice to both the independent adjuster and the carrier. Notice is the key, notify in writing, be persistent, that we need our name on the check.

Is a Work Authorization sufficient to begin emergency work on a restoration project? Work Authorizations lack important terms and conditions. A proper state compliant contract with clear payment terms, lien rights, AOB, terms and conditions which minimize liability is best. WARNING: The uniform contract provided by your franchisor may be insufficient. Don’t piecemeal a contract together. Don’t rely on artificial intelligence to create your contract.
What about the mandatory 3-day contract recission? States may have an exemption for emergency situations.

With your prior experience working for the world’s largest restorer of damaged property you’ve likely seen it all: What event or event or situation did you find most humorous, and why? The accusation we disposed of a 50-year-old collection of nail clippings. A client complained that the bulb in an incandescent light fixture wasn’t exactly centered. Bad scammers who have claimed to have tripped over drying equipment and sustained injury on a day after all equipment had been removed. During CAT work in Florida, Angela has observed workers ignoring safety practices (e.g. working in bare feet on water losses).

[b]A Czarina is the title of an empress in Russia, how did you become known as the Czarina of Collections? Pete Consigli coined the moniker[/b]. Both Ed Cross and Angela like it.

Are environmental claims common following structure fire losses or wildfires due to alleged exposure to smoke hazards or restoration products? Not really, the most common homeowner complaint is residual smoke odor. See some disputes between restorers, IHs and insurance carriers regarding the carrier’s resistance to payment for additional work.

RoundUp

Pete Consigli Global Restoration Watchdog

According to Ed Cross, having a specified dollar amount on a signed contract is more legally defensible than contracts with attached rate sheets.

Ed Cross’ first book on contracts was dedicated to Pete Consigli, his second book on AOBs was dedicated to mark Springer, Pete suggested that the subject of Ed’s third book be Dealing with Mortgage Companies. Mortgage Companies who held onto insurance proceeds on large losses threatened the viability of some large restoration contractors. In 2012, at the RIA convention in Myrtle Beach there was a panel discussion with 2 attorneys moderated by Patti Harmon. One of the attorneys was from general industry and the other was corporate. Pete wrote an article covering the event with was published in C&R Magazine. Subjects included: unjust enrichment and consequential damages. The attorneys advised a 3 part strategy to persuade mortgage companies to release insurance proceeds due to contractors: (proper preparation) Setup, (be) Aggressive, & Threaten.
Angela Bajramaj: Mortgage Company holding insurance proceeds due to contractor? Mortgage companies are as frustrating to deal with as insurance carriers. When you call they put you on hold, transfer you to people who don’t know and lack authority, etc. TIP: Have a Mortgage Authorization signed which authorized you to communicate directly with the mortgage company.

Angela Bajramaj: Mysterious disappearance? TIP: Have a clause in your contract that states: Restorer is not responsible for items not declared by the policyholder. The policyholder must notify and declare value of items.

Angela Bajramaj: CAT Loss Craziness! During CAT work, Angela has observed remediation workers disregarding safety practices (e.g. bare feet on water losses). Enforce safety.

“Unjust enrichment is usually used to describe benefits that are received either accidentally or in error, but which have not been earned, and ethically should not be kept. Unjust enrichment is typically considered to be unfair, and those who are declared unjustly enriched are required by law to pay the other party restitution. https://legaldictionary.net/unjust-enrichment/

Consequential damages are also known as “special damages’ and are damages that are not a direct result of an incident itself, but are instead consequences of that incident. An example of consequential damages would be a driver getting into a car accident because, instead of paying attention to the road, he was focused on another car accident that had just happened across the street. The first car accident cannot be blamed for directly causing the injuries to those in the second car accident. However, the second car accident did occur as an indirect result of the first car accident. https://legaldictionary.net/consequential-damages/

Angela Bajramaj: Highly recommends that the audience attend the RIA Annual Convention, in Dallas, April 2024.


Z-Man signing off



Trivia:
Name the insurance policy exclusion which eliminates virtually all coverage for pollution incidents, including those retained under the standard Commercial General Liability (CGL) policy.

Answer: Total Pollution Exclusion

Answered by: Don Weekes, Ottawa, Ontario Canada
1073 Borden Side Road, Ottawa, ON Canada K2C 3P3
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