In August, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida personal injury case discussing the statute of limitations for a negligence claim against a construction company. According to the court’s opinion, in 2012 the plaintiff was climbing up an attic ladder in his residence when it collapsed, causing injuries. Four years later, in 2016, the plaintiff sued the defendant construction company who had built the home, alleging negligence in the installation of the attic ladder.
The defendant construction company filed a motion to dismiss, which was granted by the trial court because Florida law states that an action based on the “construction of an improvement to real property” has a ten-year statute of limitations. Finding that the Florida law applied in this case, and that the house was completed in 2004, the trial court found that the plaintiff’s claim was barred.
The plaintiff appealed the trial court’s dismissal, arguing that the Florida law does not apply because the construction of the attic ladder was not an “improvement to real property.” On appeal, however, the state appellate court agreed with the defendant construction company and affirmed the trial court’s holding and the defendant’s motion to dismiss. According to the court’s opinion, the attic ladder constituted an “improvement to real property” because it provided additional utility to the home; residents could now access the attic without having to bring a stand-alone ladder to the attic opening. The court held that the attic ladder did not have to increase the value of the property or be essential to the property to constitute an improvement; merely providing the additional utility was enough. Additionally, the court found that the ladder was installed during the home’s initial construction, and required both labor and money to be installed, which further supported the conclusion that the ladder was an “improvement to real property.”
Having found that the construction of the ladder was an “improvement to real property,” the court then affirmed the dismissal of the suit because of the evidence that the plaintiff (owner) took possession of the house, which was fully constructed, in May of 2004. As such, the statute of limitations required by Florida law barred any claims after May of 2014, two years before the plaintiff filed suit. The plaintiff was thus barred from pursuing his claim against the defendant construction company, even though his injury occurred two years before the statute of limitations ran out.
Have You Been Injured in a Florida Accident?
If you or someone close to you has recently been injured in a Florida construction accident, contact the dedicated personal injury attorneys at Frankl Kominsky. Our experienced attorneys are knowledgeable in all areas of Florida personal injury law, and understand the unique challenges facing accident victims. If successful, you may be entitled to financial compensation based on your injuries. To learn more, call our office today at (561) 800-8000 to schedule your free initial consultation. There is no risk in calling, because we will not bill you for our services unless we can help you obtain compensation.