Contractual Protections To Limit Design Professionals’ Liability In Florida
There are numerous reasons that design professionals prefer to work for a firm instead of going out on their own, but avoiding liability for construction defects certainly ranks near the top. Under Florida statute on liability of design professionals, a person who is employed by or acting as agent of a business entity is not individually liable to pay damages for negligent acts. There are several requirements in the statute related to the contract for services between the design firm and customer, which must state that the individual professional cannot be held liable for negligence. The business entity would be accountable, and provisions on professional liability insurance offer protection for the customer.
However, design professionals who work separately from a business entity are not protected by the statute. Still, there are actions you can take in advance to safeguard your interests, and you should consult with a Florida design professionals lawyer about options. Some background information provides insight in this important area.
Concerns for Individual Design Professionals: Many architects, designers, engineers, and related professionals mistakenly believe that they cannot be accountable for negligence when there is no contract. However, design professionals can be held liable in a construction defect claim even if they did not personally contract to provide services. Lack of contractual privity between the individual and the employer’s customer is not a defense.
As such, it is up to design professionals and the companies they work with to limit liability via contract. The statute contains several requirements that must be included, but there are additional recommendations to consider.
Tips for Liability Provisions in Contracts: There are 5 items listed in the statute on contractual limitations on liability, so you will need to comply with all of them to avoid individual design professional liability.
- The contract must be between a business entity and project stakeholder for the provision of professional design services.
- The agreement must exclude any mention of the individual or agent who will perform the services.
- You must include a statement in large, uppercase font that an individual employee or agent cannot be held accountable for construction defects.
- The business entity must have an insurance policy as defined in the contract.
- The limitation on liability is only applicable to economic loss, not personal injury or damage to property not covered by the contract.
In addition to the statutory requirements, there are additional provisions that go further to protect the interests of an individual design professional. You might consider a liquidated damages clause or caps on monetary damages. Plus, indemnity clauses that limit liability are often enforceable in court.
Our Florida Design Professionals Attorneys Will Advise You on Liability Issues
As you can see, individual design professionals could be at risk of construction defect claims unless they properly manage liability issues by contract. For more information on how to protect your interests, please contact Linkhorst & Hockin, P.A. You can schedule a consultation at our offices in Jupiter, FL by calling 561-626-8880 or visiting our website.