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Common defenses to watch out for in construction defect claims

Construction defect claims are rarely surefire. When you're seeking to hold a developer, builder or contractor accountable, you may face roadblocks along the way. Ultimately, the other side is looking to protect their own interests - and their own bottom line. Thus it's important to be aware of possible defenses and arguments they might raise in these cases.

Common defenses include:

  • Raising procedural issues: Florida law imposes strict time limits for construction defect claims. The applicable deadline depends on the circumstances and type of defect. Additionally, prior to filing a lawsuit, those seeking to pursue a defect claim must first give the responsible parties adequate notice and an opportunity to resolve the dispute. Failure to do so might result in dismissal of the claim - not to mention valuable time (and money) wasted.
  • Disputing the existence of a defect: Put simply, the defendant might argue that there is no defect. This defense is more prevalent in cases involving gray areas - for example, substitutions of different materials or deviations from the building plans. Sometimes, these cases involve a "battle of experts" that comes down to which party's expert testimony is more credible.
  • Arguing that another party was at fault: Once you've established a defect, you still have another hurdle to overcome: establishing who was responsible for that defect. In the complex world of construction, with so many different parties involved at different stages of the process, the answer isn't always obvious. A general contractor might cast blame on a subcontractor, or vice-versa. Holding the right parties accountable requires diligent investigation upfront.
  • Claiming that you somehow contributed: Depending on the type of defect involved, the defense might try to argue that you contributed to it - for example, by failing to properly maintain the component or systems at issue. This argument is more likely in defect claims that arise long after the original construction (or repair work) was completed.

These are just a few of the many defenses that come up in construction defense cases. To protect your interests - and ensure the best chance of a favorable outcome - it's wise to involve a construction attorney as soon as you suspect there's a defect. That way, you can avoid missteps and take the right legal action.

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