Who Is Responsible for Defective Materials?
Hiring a contractor can be nerve-wracking. Much like going to an auto mechanic, physician, or another individual having expertise in an area about which many people know very little, dealing with a contractor can cause the same type of anxiety. Most individuals are not familiar with how construction is supposed to progress or what materials should be used, so they will typically trust the expertise of the contractor. In many cases, a reputable contractor will attempt to educate the property owner about choosing materials, as well as to indicate how the project will progress. However, some contractors are not as professional, and will either attempt to so the work with substandard materials or will construct it in a substandard manner. In either case, the potential exists for the end result to be defective. In these cases, retaining the services of an experienced construction law attorney can be crucial to obtaining reimbursement for the costs of repair. By way of example, the University of Akron has instituted legal action against various parties who constructed railings at the football stadium which are now crumbling.
An action for a construction defect falls under the general legal theory of negligence. In negligence cases, an injured plaintiff must prove that the defendant failed to maintain its duty to ensure the structure was safe for use and not liable not to cause harm to an individual, and that this failure did cause harm or can reasonably be expected to cause harm to the property owners.
In addition, Florida law contains a specific provision related to construction defects. Set out in Chapter 558 of the Florida Statutes, this provision provides a process by which all construction defect matters are to proceed. In an effort to curb litigation and to encourage settlement prior to trial, this provision establishes a series of steps involving allowing the potential defendants an opportunity to cure any defect in advance of filing the lawsuit. While this provision presumably is intended to reduce the amount of lawsuits alleging construction defects, the process is complex, and some of the deadlines are non-extendible. As a result, it is wise to consult with an experienced construction law attorney in advance of attempting to proceed with a claim.
While any party that is involved in a construction project is potentially liable for any harm caused, in the specific instance of defective materials, the primary parties at fault will most likely be the designer or the manufacturer.
The project’s designers are typically engaged in setting forth the design of the structure. In matters involving defective materials, if it can be shown that the designer instructed the contractor (or any subcontractor) to use substandard materials, then the designer may be held liable for any harm caused. Substandard materials may include using less expensive materials that are not able to withstand the ravages of weather or the load that may be put upon them. In some cases, designers may be contractually required to inspect the project for compliance, and can be liable for the failure to discover defective materials.
Defective materials may also subject the manufacturer to liability, especially if it can be proven that the manufacturer used substandard products in an effort to reduce its overhead. As an example, using a cheaper adhesive on a gas pipeline may cause a leak, leading to a potential explosion. In such a case, if it can be proven that the decision to use the less quality adhesive was made by the manufacturer, then it may be held liable.
Seek Legal Advice
If you have discovered that your construction project was completed using substandard materials, contact an experienced Florida defective construction attorney. The attorneys at Linkhorst & Hockin, P.A. have experience in construction law, including situations in which the property owner is left with a crumbling edifice as a result of defective materials. We will analyze your particular circumstances and, if they believe you have a cause of action, will aggressively pursue for recovery on your behalf. Contact our Jupiter office today.