Construction Update: Florida Design Professionals May Limit Individual Liability For Negligence

April 30, 2013

According to a new statute signed by Governor Scott on April 25, 2013, Florida design professionals may contractually limit their individual liability for negligence occurring within the scope of their employment.  Under prior law, design professional, including licensed architects, engineers, interior designers, landscape architects, surveyors, and geologists, could be individually liable for damages caused by their professional negligence, even if the business entity they worked for had a contract limiting its liability for negligence.  The new statute eliminates this individual liability under certain circumstances.  

Pursuant to Florida Statute 558.0035, design professionals working as employees or agents of a business entity are not individually liable for damages resulting from negligence occurring within the course and scope of  their professional service if:
  1. There is a contract between the claimant and the business entity for the provision of professional services to the claimant; 
  2. The contract does not name the individual employees or agents as parties to the contract;
  3. The contract explicitly and prominently includes a statement (in uppercase font that is at least 5 point sizes larger than the rest of the text) disclaiming individual liability for negligence;
  4. The business entity maintains professional liability insurance as required in the contract; and
  5. There are no personal injuries or damage to other property not covered by the contract.
The statute takes effect on July 1, 2013, and does not appear to be retroactive. Prior to the statute's effective date, it is important for design professionals to analyze their current contracts and revise them to take advantage of the new protections created by this law.