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Appellate Court Addresses Statute of Repose in Florida Personal Injury Lawsuit

Recently, the District Court of Appeals in Florida issued an opinion stemming from a personal injury lawsuit filed by a construction worker after he sustained injuries climbing an attic ladder. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against a residential development company after a ladder he was climbing to repair a leak collapsed. The plaintiff appealed the trial court’s ruling, which granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment based on the ten-year statute of repose.

In Florida, injury victims are entitled to file personal injury lawsuits based on construction defects. Victims who suffered injuries because of these defects can try to recover damages from contractors, owners, builders, and developers. However, there are specific procedural requirements that injury victims should comply with to ensure that their lawsuit can proceed.

Plaintiffs must file lawsuits based on negligent construction, improvement, or design within four years of either the completion of the property or discovery of a hidden defect. Moreover, Florida’s statute of repose provides that plaintiffs must commence lawsuits based on latent defects within ten-years of a specific event. Plaintiffs can face challenges with these types of Florida accidents because the statue of repose may bar a lawsuit before the plaintiff even becomes aware of the issue.

Plaintiffs must initiate lawsuits based on the design, construction, planning, or improvement of a Florida property within ten years of four distinct events:

  1. The date the owner possessed the property;
  2. The date of the certificate of occupancy;
  3. The date when the property was abandoned;
  4. The date when the contract between the contractor, architect, or engineer was terminated.

In this case, the court concluded that Florida’s statute of repose applied to the lawsuit because the attic ladder was an improvement to the residential property. In turn, they evaluated whether the statute of repose barred the lawsuit. The statue of repose prohibited any lawsuits after May, 2014 because the original owners possessed the home in April, 2004, and the occupancy certificate was issued In May, 2004. Therefore, the statute of repose barred the plaintiff’s 2016 lawsuit.

A statute of repose can create issues for plaintiffs and contractors alike. Plaintiffs must make sure to file their lawsuit against the appropriate parties on time or their lawsuits risk dismissal. Similarly, contractors who wish to indemnify themselves and make claims against subcontractors, must make sure to do so within the statute. In response to the harsh result many contractors faced, Florida amended its statute of repose laws for construction defects claims. In those cases, counterclaims, third-party claims, and cross-claims may be commenced within one year after, “the pleading to which such claims relate is served, even if such claims would otherwise be time-barred.”

Have You Suffered Injuries Based on a Construction Defect in Florida?

If you or a loved one has suffered damages because of another’s negligence, you should contact the Florida Accident attorneys at the Law Offices at Robert Dixon. Florida construction accident lawsuits can entail significant challenges, and it is necessary to have an experienced attorney represent your interests. These cases require plaintiffs to comply with stringent evidentiary and procedural requirements. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Robert Dixon can ensure that your case complies with the relevant laws and help to get you the compensation you deserve. Compensation may include payments for medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Contact the office at 877-499- 4878.