Important Deadlines to Remember for Construction Defect Lawsuits

Cristina Pierson, Attorney, Kelley | Uustal

If you are dealing with construction defects on your project, you need to be alert to the fact that there are time deadlines that apply to filing claims against your construction professionals, contractor, and suppliers.  Among the applicable deadlines are laws called “statutes of limitation” and “statutes of repose” which provide a period of time in which your lawsuit must be filed against any responsible parties.  If a lawsuit is not filed in Florida within that time limit, you may be forever barred from taking legal action.  So owners, developers, contractors, and builders should be aware that important deadlines exist for filing a lawsuit for construction defect related claims. 

That said, the determination of time limits applicable to your particular claims is determined by a complex legal analysis which takes into account the facts and circumstances of each case and the types of claims being pursued.  Generally, Florida law provides that cases involving the design, planning, or construction of an improvement to real property must be filed within four (4) years from the end of the project or from a later discovery of a latent (hidden) defect.  See Fla. Stat. §95.11(3)©.   So the clock for the statute of limitations for construction defects typically starts when the owner takes possession of the property, when a final certificate of occupancy is issued, or when a contract is completed or terminated.  But there is also a final ten (10) year deadline that ultimately applies to such claims regardless of discovery and bars the filing of suit thereafter.  While there are exceptions and instances where these filing deadlines may be tolled (extended), those are limited situations and cannot be relied upon without significant risk. 

Therefore, if you intend to pursue claims for construction defects, it is best to take immediate steps to consult with counsel and obtain specific advice as to the time limits for filing your lawsuit.   If you delay, your legal rights could be jeopardized.

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