How Design Professional Liability Works In Florida
Every Florida construction project starts with a design, and it is the design professional’s job to make the owner and/or developer’s vision become a reality. However, these individuals are also responsible for delivering services in accordance with the appropriate standard of care for their discipline. When architects, engineers, and related professionals prepare construction documents, they lay the foundation for the entire project. The owner, general contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers rely on the designers’ expertise to complete their own work – and know how the efforts of other parties’ impact the plan.
As a result, you can imagine the implications when the construction documents prepared by a design professional do not live up to the relevant standards of care in that respective field. Cost increases, delays are inevitable, and safety can become a serious concern. It is possible to hold these individuals and/or their employers accountable for damages, so you should discuss your options with a Florida design professional liability attorney. Some basic points may also be helpful.
The implications of a design error can be catastrophic. When you consider the fact that the construction documents prepared by design professionals are the core of the project, you can see how an error can snowball. Mistakes can build upon each other, especially when they are based upon:
- Improper structural design;
- Failure to properly reinforce corners and openings;
- Errors when planning for plumbing;
- Not including proper provisions for drainage;
- Neglect in spacing slabs;
- Inadequate structural support for piers and columns; and
- Incompatible materials.
Privity of contract is not required to hold a design professional liable. Many architects, geologists, and engineers work as employees of a firm that carries on as a separate business organization. As a result, they do not personally contract with an owner or developer, an arrangement that would normally preclude pursuing an individual design professional for errors. However, Florida construction law provides that the person is not automatically absolved from liability for negligence or other misconduct. You may have a claim for design errors against both the individual and the firm.
Florida provides a statutory safe harbor for design professionals. Despite the statute which opens the door to personal liability, you should note that you cannot hold an individual design professional liable if:
- There is a contract between you and the design firm OR any entity providing professional services to you;
- The paperwork does not include the name of a specific design professional at the firm;
- The contract prominently states that an individual employee cannot be held liable;
- The design firm, as a separate business entity, maintains proper insurance; and
- Losses related to the design error are solely economic, i.e., there were no personal injuries or damage to non-related property.
Speak to Our Florida Design Professional Liability Lawyers Today
If your project, ability to supply work, or other financial interests have suffered losses because of a design professional’s error, please contact Linkhorst & Hockin, P.A. today to schedule a consultation. Once we review your circumstances, we can determine the best strategy for addressing misconduct.