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Best answered by an attorney in your state. In Virginia, we have a very simple legal filing called a "warrant in debt" which demands collection of such debts. The process varies by state; hopefully there is a simple means to make your claim in Georgia, as the legal fees for filing and pursuing a full-blown lawsuit would likely well exceed the amount due back to you.
You may also consider filing a formal complaint with the professional licensure board. In Georgia, that is a division of the Secretary of State. See:
Misapplication of construction funds is a serious offense. You will have to determine with your attorney whether you wish to pursue.
Georgia has a criminal statute, O.C.G.A. §16-8-15, titled: Conversion of payments for real property improvements. This statute provides a criminal cause of action if:
Any contractor, sub, or other person who with intent to defraud shall use the proceeds of any payment made to him on account of improving certain real property for any other purpose than to pay for labor or services performed on or materials furnished by his order for this specific improvement while any amount for which he may be or become liable for such labor, services, or materials remains unpaid commits a felony.
I would definitely look at reviews on Angie's List and GuildQuality. With these any contractor should be licensed and fully insured. We are a fence contractor and we focus on customer service and high quality. Be sure to ask them how they ensure quality.
Talk with your local tree nursery or a state university agricultural extension office. (Iowa State University has an excellent one.) I love willows, but if the damage is too severe, you may need to begin again.
There are two types of people that are qualified to help in this case:
1) PUBLIC ADJUSTERS are hired by you to assess damages for the preparation of an insurance claim. If the damage is extensive or complicated, potentially running into tens of thousands of dollars requiring multiple contractors, this is your best bet.
2) RESTORATION CONTRACTORS are General Contractors that specialize in assessing damages and coordinating the actual trades of these types of restoration projects. They may or may not intrface with your insurance company depending on their business model.
Both are your advocate, but like any service person you hire, it is prudent for you to vet them thoroughly before entering into a contract. Either should offer a free no-obligation assessment prior to contract signing.
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