It depends on any contract you signed to purchase the boat and/or if it was purchased "as is." If you have good evidence the seller presented to you the structure was in good condition, but in fact had concealed it, you have four years to bring an action for fraud or other claims. If you have a contract, then you have five years.
Hire an attorney because alleging fraud has specific pleading requirements.
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As Attorney Stage indicated, your answer depends on whether the contract was an as-is contract or not. There are potentially several causes of action at your disposal depending on the contractual language, as well as any warranties (if any) which were issued at the time of purchase. If the seller was a boat dealership, then there might be a surety bond in place for the performance of the contract.
As indicated, pleading fraud is very fact specific so consulting with an attorney is highly recommended.
The purchase and sale of a boat has special considerations, not like you would expect in the purchase and sale of a car. This is compounded by State law, too. Contact a local maritime attorney to assist you further. As my colleagues stated, there are too many variables that were not discuss by you here.
Adam Jaffe Law Office of Adam Jay Jaffe 124 Lomas Santa Fe Dr, #204 Solana Beach, CA 92075 (619) 810-7964 www.smallclaimsappeals.com Adam@AdamJayJaffe.com This posting is provided for “information purposes” only and should not be relied upon as "legal advice". Nothing transmitted from this posting constitutes the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. Applicability of the legal principles discussed here may differ substantially in individual situations or in different states.
First, I am not licensed in Florida, however I generally agree with the comments made by other lawyers. A contract for the sale of a vessel is traditionally not considered a Maritime Contract (although some recent cases have held differently) and is generally a matter of state rather than Federal Maritime law. You should discuss the specifics of your situation with one of the many fine Admiralty Lawyers in Florida. Both the Southeastern Admiralty Law Institue and the Maritime Law Association of the United States have websites from which you can locate an attorney who might be able to better advise you. Also, the Florida Bar certifies specialists in Admiralty and Maritime law, and you might obtain information about those lawyers from the Florida Bar Association.
If the seller deliberately concealed damage from rot, there may be issues of fraud involved. Also, and depending upon the terms of engagement, if you hired a marine surveyor who failed to note or discover these problems, they may be helpful to you in providing information on how the damage was concealed by the seller, or you may have a claim against them for failing to discover the problems if they should have been discovered. Again, these are probably matters of State law with which a Florida attorney could help you. Likewise, the time within which you must act is governed by Florida law. The general statute of limitations for maritime/admiralty matters is 3 years, but a lawyer licensed in Florida can advise you on the specific limitations under your state law.
This response does not create an attorney client relationship, and is for general information purposes only. You should promptly contact an attorney in your area to ascertain your legal rights.
Complicated case. You should contact a maritime attorney in your area ASAP. You will most likely need to sue. I'm in Seattle but am happy to refer you to excellent maritime council in your area.
This answer is for general purposes only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.