What is the Florida Statute of Repose & Why is it Important?

Statute of repose Florida

A statute of repose bars legal action after a given period of time has passed following a specified event. This is why it is essential to be aware of statute of repose Florida laws. The deadline begins to run from the date of the event and not the date on which the plaintiff incurs injury or loss. Even though you may have a cause of action, it can be too late to seek a remedy in court.

The Florida statute of repose often comes up in product liability, medical malpractice, mortgage foreclosure, and construction defect cases.

What Is the Florida Statute of Repose, and Why Is It Important?

Here is the least you need to know about Florida statute of repose laws:

What Is a Statute of Repose?

A statute of repose is any law that definitively bars legal claims after a specified deadline. The time begins to run from the date of a triggering event and not the date you suffer injury or loss. This means that the deadline may pass before you even have a cause of action or know of the claim.

What Is the Purpose of Statutes of Repose?

The primary purpose of statutes of repose is to protect potential defendants from long-term liability. Otherwise, the ever-present threat of litigation may deter businesses, manufacturers, and professionals such as engineers or healthcare practitioners from participating in the economy or providing essential public services.

What Is the Florida Statute of Repose?

Florida’s statute of repose rules are set out in Chapter 95 of the Florida Statutes. The time limits differ for different case types.

How Is a Statute of Repose Different from a Statute of Limitations?

Both statutes of repose and statutes of limitations impose an absolute bar to legal action after a specified period. The difference is that under the Florida statute of limitations, the time begins to run from the date on which:

  • You suffer injury or loss; or
  • Learn or should reasonably have known that you have a cause of action.

What Are the Rules in Chapter 95.11 Florida Statutes?

Florida statutes 95.11 set out Florida’s statute of limitations rules. Section FS 95.11(3)(c) sets out the statute of repose for construction defect cases.

Typical Statute of Repose Florida Cases

Construction cases are among Florida’s most controversial statute of repose claim types. The sections below will explore these in more depth, followed by a shorter discussion on three other common case types: medical malpractice, mortgage foreclosure, and product liability.

Florida Statute of Repose Construction Cases

Construction defect cases often give rise to Florida’s statute of repose issues. Let’s take a closer look at what the rules are and what you can do to best protect your interests.

Florida Construction Defect Statute of Repose

The relevant rules are laid out in section 95.11(3)(c) of the Florida Statutes and impose a 10-year statute of repose for bringing claims related to the design, planning, or construction of real property. This helps insulate architects, engineers, and contractors from long-term liability.

As a result, you can file a claim no later than 10 years after:

  • The date on which the owner assumed actual possession
  • The date on which a certificate of occupancy was issued
  • The date on which construction was abandoned if not completed
  • The date of completion or termination of the agreement between the architect, engineer, or licensed contractor and their employer

The deadline starts running from the latest of these events.

The rules apply to new construction projects, existing buildings, and components within buildings and cover all claim types, including:

  • Negligence
  • Breach of contract
  • Breach of warranty
  • Building code violations 

Another thing to keep in mind is that under the statute of repose, the repair or correction of defects of completed work does not extend the 10-year deadline.

Florida Construction Defect Statute of Limitations

The statute of repose for construction cases is different from the statute of limitations, which is also laid out in section 95.11(3)(c) and sets a four-year deadline to file a claim. The time starts running from the latest of the same four events.

Another key difference is that in cases involving a latent defect, the statute of limitations runs from the time the defect is or should have been discovered. Latent defects are not discoverable by “reasonable and customary inspection” and of which the owner is unaware.

How to Protect Your Interests in Construction Defect Cases as a Property Owner

As we mentioned earlier, Florida construction defect law and the statute of repose serve to protect the interests of architects, engineers, and contractors. You cannot bring a claim later than 10 years after completion of construction, regardless of when you discovered the problem or defect. 

This can be problematic, as structural defects are often not visible to the naked eye and are only discovered many years post-construction. By then, the damage is often severe.

To protect yourself, you must be aware of the statute of repose and when it runs for your property. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and stick with the earliest possible deadline. Know this date and arrange for a thorough, top-to-bottom property inspection by third-party experts at least a year in advance. This way, if you uncover potential issues or defects, you will have ample time to prepare and file a lawsuit.

The Future of Construction Defects Law in Florida

The Florida Senate is reviewing a new bill that seeks to amend section 95.11(3)(c) and eliminate the 10-year statute of repose for latent defects. If the proposed amendment passes, it will allow plaintiffs to bring latent defect claims beyond the 10-year deadline in cases of fraudulent concealment or if there are grounds for tolling the four-year statute of limitations.

Need Help with a Construction Defect Case?

If construction is complete, the clock is already ticking on the statute of repose.

Do not waste time. Click here to speak with a construction law attorney today.

Florida Statute of Repose Medical Malpractice Cases

If you suffer an injury due to the negligence of a medical professional, under Florida Statute 95.11(4)(b), you can file a claim no later than two years from the date on which you discovered or could have reasonably discovered the malpractice.

The deadline may be extended up to four years where the injury is not immediately discoverable or seven years in cases involving fraud, concealment, misrepresentation, or minors. However, in the vast majority of cases, you will not be able to bring a claim more than four years after the malpractice occurs, even if you were not aware of it and had no reasonable way to find out.

Medical malpractice law is complicated. To protect your interests, click here to hire a Cueto Law Group, medical malpractice attorney.

Florida Statute of Repose Mortgage Foreclosure Cases

In Florida, mortgage foreclosure actions are subject to a five-year deadline under section 95.11(2)(c) of the Florida Statutes. The time typically starts to run from the date of the borrower’s default.

You should note that every missed monthly payment constitutes a default and a cause of action. Each missed installment starts a separate five-year period during which the lender may bring an action. In addition, this does not bar the recovery of payments that became due more than five years before the foreclosure action.

Are you facing mortgage foreclosure? Contact the Cueto Law Group to explore your options and protect your interests.

Florida Statute of Repose Product Liability Cases

If you get injured due to a defective product, you have four years from the incident date to file a personal injury claim under the Florida product liability statute of limitations.

However, FS 95.031(2)(b) sets a statute of repose barring product liability claims 12 years after a product was first delivered to its first purchaser, irrespective of the date on which you suffer injury.

So, if you bought the product three years ago and got injured yesterday, you have four years from the date of the injury to bring legal action under the statute of limitations. However, if you bought the product 10 years ago, you only have two years to file a claim before the statute of repose kicks in.

As statutes of repose impose stricter deadlines than statutes of limitations, it is essential to know the difference between statute of repose vs statute of limitations rules in Florida and take timely action if needed.

Struggling to make sense of product liability rules? Contact the Cueto Law Group today to speak to a product liability lawyer.

Statute of Repose Rules in Florida: Key Takeaways

It can be difficult to make sense of the various statute of repose and statute of limitations laws in Florida. The deadlines vary between one to 12 years across claim types — to say nothing of the numerous exceptions to the rules.

To protect your interests and ensure that you are well within the deadline, speak with our attorneys.

Florida Statute of Repose FAQs

Read the answers to common questions regarding the statute of repose law we receive in our practice:

How Long Is a Statute of Repose?

Statute of repose deadlines varies widely across states and case types. Depending on your jurisdiction and the nature of your claim, limits can range between one and 10 years or more. In Florida, for instance, the repose period is 10 years for construction and 12 years for product liability cases.

Can You Waive a Statute of Repose?

You can waive a statute of repose by failing to assert it as an affirmative defense or, in more limited circumstances, through a contractual agreement. In either case, however, you will lose a potentially strong defense together with all the legal protections afforded by it.

Can a Statute of Repose Be Tolled?

It is possible to toll a statute of repose. However, the grounds are extremely restrictive, such as when manufacturers fraudulently conceal or intentionally misrepresent a material fact about a product, a warranty creates an exception to repose rules, or a manufacturer “revives” the claim by rebuilding or restructuring a product.

It is a lot easier to toll a statute of limitations. Common grounds include cases where the plaintiff was a minor at the time of the injury or loss, has been declared mentally incompetent, or has been convicted of a felony and is imprisoned.

Is Statute of Repose an Affirmative Defense?

An affirmative defense is a fact or a group of facts that, if established by the defendant, negates liability, whether the defendant has committed the alleged acts or not. In civil lawsuits, both statute of repose and statute of limitations constitute affirmative defenses that bar liability.

Is a Statute of Repose Substantive or Procedural?

Many courts consider statutes of repose to be substantive rather than procedural defenses, unlike statutes of limitation. This defense, where applicable, enables defense counsel to move to dismiss at the pleading stage. If the defense is successful, the client can benefit from a swift conclusion and lower litigation costs.

Procedural defenses do not factor in the guilt or innocence of the defendant. Instead, they call into question the admissibility of the court proceedings. In contrast, substantive defenses look to the facts of the case and whether the defendant committed the alleged acts.

What Is a Statute of Ultimate Repose?

A statute of ultimate repose or simply a statute of repose is a law that sets an absolute bar on bringing legal action after a given period. The time begins to run from a specified event and not the date on which the plaintiff incurs injury or loss.

This is different from a statute of limitations, which bars litigation after a specified deadline. Still, the time usually starts to run from the date on which the plaintiff suffers injury or loss or knew or should have reasonably known of the cause of action.

Cueto Law Group P.L.