If you’re weighing legal action against a contractor, subcontractor, construction company or property owner in Fort Lauderdale or Hollywood, don’t make the mistake of thinking you have forever to file a construction lawsuit. Any such litigation in Broward County is subject to rules set forth at the Florida state level, and once the state-mandated period of time – known as the statute of limitations – has passed, it will be extremely difficult for your construction litigation lawyer to successfully file action on your behalf.
Florida's 2017 statutes can be confusing, and vary depending on the type of construction litigation case. It is imperative to know how your case is likely to be classified, and the best way to know with any degree of certainty is to ask an attorney who specializes in this area of law.
Current Florida statutes
According to Florida Statute 95.11, the following deadlines apply to construction-related lawsuits, and are for "actions other than for recovery of real property:"
Four years: This includes action against contractors or construction companies for "design, planning, or construction of an improvement" resulting from defective materials. If the defects are deemed to be latent, the statute of limitations could be extended to 10 years. Also included in this time period are personal injury claims stemming from accidents that occurred at the construction site.
Two years: This deadline applies to the filing of wrongful death lawsuits caused by catastrophic accidents on the construction site.
One year: This is for cases involving foreclosures or lien filings. If a property owner refuses to pay a contractor or sub-contractor for services rendered per the terms of an agreed-upon and executed contract, a lawyer could file for a mechanic's lien against the property, forcing its sale and potentially distributing the proceeds to those who were not paid as promised in writing.
Statutes of limitation can be tricky, and there might be some overlap, depending on the unique circumstances surrounding your case.
Why you shouldn't file suit right away
There is no set period of time that one must wait before filing action in Broward County court. That said, it might save you time, money and sanity to attempt a few alternatives to litigation before embarking upon the lengthy – and potentially costly – fight in court. For example, one strongly worded demand letter from your Fort Lauderdale construction attorney could be enough to show the other party or parties that you are serious about litigation. We have witnessed – time and time again – how that one document could be all that's needed to light a fire under the other parties get you paid. Why file suit if there's a chance to resolve the matter quickly and without the hassle?
Why you should never wait till the last minute
It's startling how many would-be plaintiffs drag their feet when it comes to filing, only to find out the hard way that they misunderstood and miscategorized their case, and that the statutes of limitations for their true case type have already expired, neutralizing any claim to money they were sure would come someday. Time also tends to shroud evidence, and potential witnesses who could be instrumental to your case could become harder and harder to track down. Construction lawyers in Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale tend to stay busy, and there is no guarantee that counsel will have room on the schedule for a last-minute case, especially if said evidence and witnesses need to be gathered and tracked down.
David S. Tupler, P.A. has proudly represented Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale for more than 25 years. If you're involved in a construction dispute in Broward County, let us work to get you paid. Call today and discover why our law firm is the best fit for your unique case type.