Florida Construction Laws On Design Professional Liability
Design professionals play an important role in Florida construction contracts, and with their high level of responsibility comes a certain amount of exposure to liability. There are many individuals that are covered by the definition under Florida’s statute on design professionals, including architects and those involved with:
- Providing drawings and specifications;
- Conducting inspections and surveys;
- Designing landscape architecture;
- Interior design; and,
- Other aspects of a construction project.
Any errors, omissions, or oversights in these areas can spell major trouble, especially since general contractors and lower tier subcontractors rely on the specifications. Design professionals can be held accountable for these mistakes, but liability is complicated. A Florida design professionals attorney can advise you on the legal theories you might pursue if you suffered losses – or which you might be forced to defend if you are facing allegations of error.
- Common Law Standard of Care: Design professionals may be subject to a standard of care based upon court opinions on the topic, in both federal and state cases. In Florida, a design professional is required to render services in accordance with what a similar professional would provide under the same or similar circumstances. The common law standard of care is implied in design contracts, absent provisions to the contrary.
Therefore, the analysis starts with how a hypothetical architect or engineer would address the situation. If the design professional deviated from this standard of care, an aggrieved party could have grounds to claim breach.
- Contractual Standard of Care: From the perspective of a design professional, it is critical to note that the common law standard could be affected by the terms of the construction contract. If an engineer agrees to duties that are beyond those required by the ordinary standard of care, he or she will be bound to comply with these provisions. The legal remedy for the aggrieved party is similar to #1 above: A claim for breach of the contractual standard of care.
- Breach of Express Warranty: Though not as common as #1 and #2 above, a party may have rights when the design professional made an express promise and did not deliver. The standard of care is irrelevant to this claim. Instead, the theory of liability focuses on contracts law. The design professional may be liable for warranting that the architecture or engineering work would meet certain criteria. Failure to comply is a breach of express warranty.
Consult with a Florida Design Professionals Lawyer for Details
Liability of architects, engineers, interior designers, and other design professionals is complex, but keep in mind that it is not always necessary to go to court to resolve disputes. There are options to get your project back on track through negotiations or alternative dispute resolution, which reduces cost and time as compared to litigation. To learn more, please contact Linkhorst & Hockin, P.A. to set up a consultation with a member of our team. You can reach our offices in Palm Beach County by calling 561-626-8880 or visiting us online.