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Florida Design Professionals: Take Note Of Risky Contract Terms


Florida architects, engineers, and interior designers encounter contracts on a regular basis and, for the most part, the provisions are generally run-of-the-mill. This is not to say the usual terms are not important, but you have probably seen them enough times that you know their function and impact on your interests. However, as construction projects increase in complexity and the role of design professionals evolves to adapt, you might be seeing contractual clauses you do not recognize.

It is wise to be concerned about unfamiliar contractual provisions, as there are some that are frequently misapplied and could expose you to liability. Property owners and contractors may attempt to shift the risk, which is why retaining legal help is critical for negotiations. A Florida design professionals lawyer can advise you on the following risky contract terms:

Accessible Design 

The Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as other federal, state, and local laws and regulations, may impose liability on architects and engineers for defective designs. You may be used to claims based upon negligence, which refers to a failure to perform services consistent with the applicable standard of care. Design professionals are often held to a higher standard when developing specifications for accessible design. 

Insurance Coverage 

You carry professional liability insurance to protect yourself from claims, so you should be cautious when presented with a contract that takes you out of coverage. The biggest risk with agreeing to separate your insurance policy is the potential for design defects. These allegations typically run from the owner to the general contractor, and so does the money. Architect and engineering firms typically do not have liquid cash to pay claims. Design professionals who accept liability insurance terms might be paying out-of-pocket to satisfy defect claims that would otherwise be insurable. 

Requirements for Coordination 

It is commonplace for design professionals to work closely with other team members when coordinating details for the construction project. You should be wary of contracts that require coordination, and not for the reasons you might think. Instead of concerns about running meetings and interacting with other team members, the more pressing issue – again – is liability.

Unfortunately, construction contracts that require coordination among the design team tend to be vague about imposing liability. Other parties could point the finger at the architect or engineer who did not properly work closely enough with the team, even when the mistakes are clearly not from your efforts. When presented with an agreement that includes vague terms on coordination, use your bargaining power to make it clear exactly what you will do and will NOT do.

A Palm Beach County Design Professionals Attorney Can Provide Details

The above contractual terms may not always expose architects and engineers to risk, but you certainly want to be fully aware of provisions when they do. For more information, please contact Linkhorst Law Firm, P.A. to speak to a Florida design professionals lawyer. You can set up a consultation at our offices in Jupiter, FL by calling 561-626-8880 or completing our online form.

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