Proposed Law To Reduce The Time To File Florida Defective Construction Suits
Time restrictions play an important role in the practice of law, and many people are aware of how a statute of limitations works. Anyone seeking monetary damages must file a civil lawsuit before the deadline expires, and the clock starts to run the date that the plaintiff suffered personal or property loss. A statute of repose operates in similar fashion, except that the start date is a specified event.
In Florida, there is a statute of repose on claims for construction defects. The language of the current law sets the deadline at 10 years, but a recent bill introduced in the state legislature aims to reduce this time period and clarify when the clock starts to run. There are pros and cons that affect all parties to a construction project, but certainty is one area where property owners, contractors, and design professionals can all benefit. A Florida defective construction lawyer will explain how the laws work, and an overview on the proposed bill is helpful.
Proposed Changes to the Construction Defects Statute of Repose: As the law stands, a homeowner who seeks to recover damages for defective construction has 10 years to initiate litigation. The trigger date is measured by the occurrence of one of several events, with the latest date being the start.
House Bill HB 85, sponsored by Rep. John Snyder of Stuart, FL, would make the following changes to the construction defects statute:
- The statute of repose is reduced from 10 years to 7 years.
- The earliest of the trigger events starts the clock on the statute of repose, such as issuance of a certificate of occupancy or certificate of completion. The date of actual possession by the owner was deleted as a provision for assessing the start date.
- Cases based upon patent, openly obvious construction defects must be filed within 4 years.
- The definition of “material violation” was included, referring to a violation of a building code that results in physical harm or damage to the building.
Benefits of Reducing the Deadline: Certainty is important to all parties, but it is especially important for contractors and design professionals. They do not want to constantly be looking over their shoulders, thinking a lawsuit from up to 10 years ago could come back to create serious legal problems.
In addition, proponents of the amendment assert that it would cut down on costly litigation, often prompted by property owners themselves. They may allow maintenance to slide or not undertake repairs, mistakes that take their toll on property over the years. When forced to take action because of a reduced statute of repose, contractors are in a better position to correct problems.
Discuss Timing and Deadlines with a Florida Construction Defects Attorney
The proposed legislation on reducing the statute of repose is still being considered, but this description is useful for understanding the basics. For additional details, please contact Linkhorst & Hockin, P.A. at 561-626-8880 or via our website. We are happy to set up a consultation at our offices in Jupiter, FL.