Building a home or structure is stressful enough, but dealing with construction or contractor negligence is scary. The structural integrity of your home is crucial for your health and safety, and the cost of construction projects should ensure everything is done effectively and as promised.
However, contractors make mistakes. Sometimes these mistakes can lead to an injury, accident, or defect. Unfortunately, construction defects are an issue in Florida. The hot and humid Florida environment, as well as severe storms, can make poorly installed construction projects worse for homeowners.
If your Florida home was poorly constructed, then you could see damaging water leaks and mold, especially if there were problems installing windows, roofs, or stucco. In Florida, a construction negligence lawyer can hold Florida contractors liable for construction defects.
What Is Construction Negligence?
Construction negligence occurs when a contractor or other person involved in a construction project is negligent. Negligence, as defined by Florida law, is a failure to act with reasonable care. Those involved in construction projects can be sued for negligence when they fail to meet a duty of care to ensure that the building is up to safety standards and building codes.
Construction negligence lawsuits must determine if the builder or contractor acted with reasonable care, or acted in a way that led to losses, injuries, or damage.
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Understanding Duty Of Care
During construction projects in Florida, various professionals could be tasked with overseeing or supervising your project. The person in charge of the construction project has a duty of care to do the job well, avoid construction defects, and prevent accidents.
Those in charge also have a duty of care to anyone who lives or might live in the home, as well as workers tasked with construction. A duty of care means any supervisor must use reasonable care to make sure the building site is safe and the structure is up to standards.
Individuals tasked with overseeing the construction project, and meeting a duty of care, include:
- project managers
Construction projects in Florida require specialized skills. A duty of care in construction projects extends to making sure that all specialized work is conducted with the skill required for the project to last. General contractors and developers are ultimately responsible for any negligence on the part of subcontractors.
Construction Defects In Florida
The supervisors or general contractors responsible for overseeing the work on your property must do a good job. Construction defects may occur if these individuals, or the workers below them, are negligent. Defects are structural failures that could cause damage after construction.
Construction defects could be the result of:
- a poor design
- using the wrong materials
- problems that arise from low-quality craftsmanship
Examples Of Construction Negligence In Florida
Construction negligence occurs when supervisors fail to meet a reasonable duty of care for the project. This can happen in numerous ways, from poor installation to careless planning.
Examples of construction negligence include:
- the contractor or developer isn’t properly licensed to perform the project
- lacking a strategy or plan for obtaining resources to complete the project
- failing to train or hire qualified workers for specialized projects
- communication problems that fail to meet the scope of the project
- failing to obtain required permits
- failing to adequately supervise workers
Like personal injury claims, construction negligence varies from case to case. Because of the wide range of construction projects in Florida, you’ll likely need to hire a construction negligence lawyer to help prove your case.
Proving Construction Negligence In Florida
As a homeowner, you may file a construction negligence lawsuit to receive compensation for damages, losses, or injuries associated with a construction defect.
To prove negligence in Florida, a lawyer will need to show at least four elements: legal duty, breach of legal duty, the breach of legal duty caused harm, and the harm was damaging.
This is the duty of care that contractors have to homeowners when they agree on terms of construction. To prove legal duty, a lawyer must show that a contract or agreement between the construction contractor and homeowner exists and is valid.
If a general contractor does a project for a homeowner, then it’s implied in the contract that the project will be up to standards and is properly executed.
Breach Of Legal Duty
Proving a breach of this legal duty is more complicated. Your lawyer will need to show that the general contractor, developer, or builder failed to meet the duty of care.
How a lawyer proves this breach will depend on the specific details of the case. In Florida, courts and juries may decide this portion of the case by looking at the details of the contract and comparing it to the harm or injury that occured.
A lawyer may also invoke something called the doctrine of substantial performance. This means that the builder may be required to pay the difference between the construction defect and what was originally agreed upon in the construction plan.
Breach Of Duty Caused Harm
A crucial part of negligence cases in Florida is showing that the breach of duty contributed to injury or harm. If the contractor fulfilled their duty to the homeowner, then there would be no harm.
To prove this, a lawyer must show that the extent of the harm was the result of breaching their duty and standard of care to the homeowner. As defined by Florida law, harm can include either bodily injury or damage to private property.
The Harm Was Damaging
To prove this element of a negligence claim, a lawyer must show that the house was damaged, or someone was hurt, because of the work done by the contractor or builder. This could be structural damage, mold growth, or other damage to the property that resulted from construction.
The Slavin Rule In Florida
For construction negligence cases in Florida, something called the Slavin Rule may be invoked. This stems from a legal case in the late 1950s that determined that an individual who purchases a property accepts any of the construction’s patent, or obvious, defects.
This rule affects who is liable for construction defect cases. If the defect is latent or hidden, for example, then the Slavin Rule states that the initial contractor responsible for the defect could still be held liable for injuries or damages years later.
Florida Construction Fraud And Negligent Misrepresentation
If a construction project was intentionally misrepresented, such as exaggerating quality performance or making false statements about the project, then fraud may have occurred. In this case, the contractor may not have ever intended to follow the construction as planned.
You may be the victim of negligent misrepresentation when a developer or contractor makes assertions or statements that come off as fact but are actually untrue. This can lead to potential problems for the homebuyer and is also grounds for a lawsuit.
Florida’s Construction Negligence Statute Of Limitations
There is a statute of limitations for filing construction negligence cases in Florida. To file a case in Florida, you must do so within four years. There are exceptions to statute of limitation cases, however, and it helps to consult with a lawyer to make sure you file on time.
How A Florida Construction Negligence Lawyer Can Help Your Claim
Construction negligence in Florida is a complicated legal matter. It can be difficult to determine who is liable, what you should seek compensation for, and how to best move forward with the process. Hiring a lawyer can put your mind at ease by doing the following.
Finding Expert Witnesses
For construction negligence cases, finding the right expert witness is key. An expert witness can communicate to the judge or jury how the construction defects can hurt the future pricing of selling a home, as well as any injuries that could occur because of the defect or breach of duty.
Expert witnesses are important because they will have to explain everything from duty of care to breach of contract and how negligence played a role in the plaintiff’s harm, injury, or loss.
Understanding Florida Law
The effectiveness of your construction negligence claim will hinge on your lawyer’s understanding of Florida law. For any negligence case, Florida law is complex. For example, there is a difference between a contractual and non-contractual legal duty in Florida, which can affect how your case is filed and tried.
A Florida construction negligence lawyer can also help contact the right professionals for assessing the damage to your property. Without a clear assessment of how your property was damaged or harmed as the result of negligence, it can be difficult to prove your case.
If your home was damaged or someone was hurt because of construction negligence, a personal injury lawyer can help you collect compensation for medical costs, lost wages, and any other out-of-pocket expenses related to the harm done.
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Contact Florin|Roebig To File A Florida Construction Negligence Claim Today
Our Florida-based, multi-state law firm accepts a wide range of civil cases, including construction negligence claims. Florida sees numerous construction projects, and you don’t want your hard-earned money to go to waste if a costly construction project is poorly executed.
At Florin|Roebig, our team of experienced construction law lawyers can help assess the merits of your case. We offer a free case evaluation to help you begin the legal process.
For more information on construction negligence, or to start your free case evaluation, contact our offices today.