Options To Mitigate Damages In Florida Defective Construction Claims
Florida contractors invest considerable resources and effort to assess specifications and carry out essential tasks to complete a construction project, on time and on budget. Despite these best intentions, claims for construction defects under Florida law are an unfortunate reality. Errors in the design, planning, construction, and remodeling can cause personal injury accidents and property damage down the road. Disputes may lead to litigation, and you can be sure the owner will seek to pin liability on any general contractor, construction manager, or subcontractor that contributed to the construction defect.
However, even when the source of the flaw seems clear, there are certain construction law principles that limit contractor liability. Mitigating damages is the responsibility of many other parties to the contract, so all contractors should be aware of strategies to limit their risk. It is important to consult with a Florida defective construction lawyer about such tactics as:
Leverage the Property Owner’s Duty to Mitigate
An owner may be entitled to compensation for losses resulting from the defect, including:
- Labor and materials to correct the flaw;
- Amounts for ancillary property damage;
- Any award paid to the victim of a personal injury accident; and,
- Expenses related to indirect costs from the construction defect.
Still, property owners also have an affirmative legal obligation to mitigate their damages. Upon becoming aware of the defects, the owner must undertake any corrective measures that would reduce the consequences. Failure to do so could limit the contractor’s liability.
Apply “Economic Waste” as Measure of Damages
In some situations, the cost to repair construction defects would be outrageous and fiscally infeasible. For instance, an error regarding copper versus PVC piping by a plumbing contractor could require ripping out and replacing all pipes – which basically means tearing up many other structures and features of the building at extreme expense.
Instead of compensation, the preferred measurement of damages from the contractor’s view would take into account economic waste. This amount is calculated by evaluating how much the property has decreased in value because of the defect.
Employ the “Betterment” Doctrine
This concept applies when the construction defect is an omission that was present in the specifications provided by the owner to the contractor. The owner may undertake to correct the omission, but the original contractor cannot be held liable for any amounts that were not called for in the initial construction project specs. The betterment doctrine avoids the situation where the property owner enjoys a windfall by recovering damages in excess of the contractual amount.
A Florida Defective Construction Attorney Can Advise You on Mitigation Strategies
Even when a party has a legitimate claim for flaws in construction, there are limits to liability of the general contractor and lower tier subcontractors. If you are facing claims of defective construction, it is essential to work with skilled legal counsel to take advantage of these strategies. Our team at Linkhorst & Hockin, P.A. can help, so please call 561-626-8880 or visit us online to schedule a consultation at our Jupiter, FL offices.