Mechanic's Liens by Jeffrey G. Gilmore and Karen E. Harrison When a contractor is not paid for work or materials, the primary legal remedy is, perhaps, the mechanic's lien. Basically, a mechanic's lien gives you a way to collect a debt from someone whose property you've improved. This discussion will focus on fundamental concepts of most mechanic's lien statutes. Potential claimants, however, should speak to a lawyer to make sure they comply with local requirements, which vary from state to state. There are generally three classifications of lien claimants: 1) principal contractor; 2) subcontractors; and 3) laborers, lower-tier subcontractors, or suppliers. In many states, including Connecticut, Maine, and Massachusetts, the claims of subcontractors and suppliers cannot exceed the amount owed to the general contractor by the