Time Restrictions In Florida Construction Defects Claims
Time limitations apply to both criminal and civil cases in Florida, including personal injury suits, breach of contract actions, and claims for defects in construction projects. The law imposes deadlines on all types of actions and is commonly referred to as a statute of limitations, though there are other provisions as well. The point of implementing time restrictions is to ensure that disputes are brought before the court promptly, when evidence is still intact and witness recollections are still fresh. These factors are especially important for defective construction claims where the details are critical.
Property owners, contractors, insurance companies, and many other parties that have an interest in a construction project should be aware of the basics on deadlines. Statutes of limitations and related laws could bar an action, but the concepts are not as easy as just saying the deadline is # years. Count on a Florida defective construction lawyer to advise you on the following time restrictions:
How the Statute of Limitations Works
When a property owner is claiming a flaw in the design, planning, or construction of a project, Florida law imposes a deadline of four years measured from:
- The date the property owner took actual possession of the property;
- The date listed on the certificate of occupancy; or,
- The date the contractor stopped working on the project, if it was not completed.
The effect of the four-year statute of limitations is that it acts as a defense raised by the party being sued. In other words, the defendant would probably move to dismiss a lawsuit on the grounds that the case is barred.
Florida’s Statute of Repose
Aside from the four-year time restriction, the law also includes a provision that acts as a statute of repose for construction defect claims. A plaintiff is barred from seeking damages in a claim based upon “latent defects,” which are those flaws that were not obvious or could not have been discovered through due diligence. A property owner has 10 years to file a lawsuit under such circumstances.
Construction Defects Notifications
There is yet another provision under Florida law that is not specifically a deadline, but which does impact timing. Under the statute on Notice and Opportunity to Repair, a property owner must serve written notice before filing a lawsuit in court for defective construction. The law has the effect of shortening the statutes of limitations and/or repose, because the notice must be sent:
- 60 days before filing a lawsuit in most cases; OR
- 120 days before litigation when the construction defect claims are raised by a homeowners’ association with more than 20 lots.
Speak to Our Palm Beach County Defective Construction Attorneys About Deadlines
You can see how time restrictions are more than just a number of years in lawsuits based upon construction defects, so legal counsel is essential for disputes. To learn more about how the statutes of limitations and repose apply to your situation, please contact Linkhorst & Hockin, P.A. to schedule a consultation at our offices in Jupiter, FL.