Changes To Florida’s Statute Of Limitations Affect Construction Contractors
A recent bill enacted by Florida lawmakers drew the ire of personal injury attorneys who decry the shorter time period for accident victims to file a lawsuit. However, some of the changes also affect those in the construction industry. The legislation is a significant modification to the Florida statute of limitations, and contractors must be aware of how it affects their interests. Every US state has a statute of limitations that imposes a deadline on taking legal action in many areas of law. There are time restrictions in criminal cases, but the important deadlines for contractors will be related to civil lawsuits.
If a claimant does not file a lawsuit in court before the statute of limitations expires, they are barred from seeking legal remedies. Therefore, the law could thwart your case if you miss the deadline, but you can also use it as a defense to a claim against you. Because of these very important outcomes, you should trust a Florida construction lawyer to learn the specifics about changes to the statute of limitations in Florida. An overview is also helpful.
Statute of Limitations Changes: The main modification to the statute of limitations is that the time period was reduced from 4 years to 2 years. Any action related to the design, planning, construction, or improvement to real estate must be filed in court before the deadline. However, prior to the recent modifications, there was some confusion on the events that start the clock running. With the changes, the key dates for the statute of limitations are when:
- A certificate of occupancy is issued, either temporary or final;
- Officials issue a certificate of completion; or,
- Construction is abandoned, for projects that are not completed.
The statute of limitations starts to run on the earliest of these dates.
Effects on Statute of Repose: The statute of limitations also includes provisions that create a statute of repose – another type of deadline that contractors need to know. When a party is alleging latent defects in construction, they have additional time because these problems may be unknown and not discovered right away. For a case based upon latent construction defects, the aggrieved party has 7 years to sue. Previously, the statute of repose was 10 years.
Multiple Buildings in a Construction Project: Lawmakers made a clarification on the statute of limitations with respect to projects that involve multiple structures as part of the whole. In these cases, each building is considered a separate project for purposes of the start date for the statute of limitations. The clock runs when the temporary certificate of occupancy, certificate of occupancy, or certificate of completion is issued.
Consult with a South Florida Construction Law Attorney for Details
This summary of the changes to the statute of limitations is useful for contractors who did not know they could impact construction projects. To learn more, please contact the Jupiter, FL offices of Linkhorst & Hockin, P.A. You can call 561-626-8880 or go online to schedule a consultation with a knowledgeable lawyer.