Legal Question in Civil Litigation in California

condo damage liability

I own a condo that is attached to two other units. I rent it out. My tenant notified me that water was leaking down through the ceiling in both bathrooms. It turned out that a pipe burst under the sink in the upstairs unit. The owners were away for the weekend. The homeowners assoc. says they are only responsible if the pipe is in the wall. I contacted the owners insurance and they said they are not responsible because the owner was not home at the time that the pipe burst. There was quite a bit of damage done so I had to submit it to my insurance and pay the deductable. Is the insurance company trying to pull a fast one by telling me that they are not responsible just because they were not home? Can I sue the owner of the other unit for the deductable?

Asked on 8/18/07, 4:07 pm

4 Answers from Attorneys

David Lupoff Law Offices of David B. Lupoff
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Re: condo damage liability

Both Hoffman and Shers are right on target. The claim that the insurance from the upstairs condo would not cover the damages in your condo because the upstairs owners were not home at the time the pipe burst is really silly. Your carrier should go after the other owner's insurance company for purposes of subrogation. And while they are at it, they should get you your deductable back.

Good luck.

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8/19/07, 2:01 am
Michael Meyer Law Ofc. Of Michael J. Meyer
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Re: condo damage liability

The three before me seem correct. This is a bad faith action in the making (just mentioning "bad faith" might get you some headway).

See if you can get their denial of coverage in writing. Then ask your upstairs people for a copy of the policy. Take both to a local attorney.

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8/19/07, 2:49 am
Edward Hoffman Law Offices of Edward A. Hoffman
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Re: condo damage liability

It's hard to believe the other owner's insurance only covers this type of damage if the owner is home at the time. Tell your insurance carrier about this and let it decide whether to sue the other owner for subrogation. At a minimum, you should let your insurer know you are considering filing suit yourself so that it can decide whether to sue before your action interferes with its rights.

Good luck.

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8/18/07, 4:34 pm
George Shers Law Offices of Georges H. Shers
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Re: condo damage liability

I agree with Mr. Hoffman that one has to be very skeptical of the other unit's insurance carrier. Ask them for a copy of the insurance polcy. The wrongful act that occurred was the pipe bursting, not their not being there to turn off the water. If they will not give you a copy of the policy [not really an issue of insured's privacy because he already told you he has insurance and who his carrier was, but they are saying for this incident they are not his carrier] or they are lying about what the coverage is, complain to the Department of Insurance and also contact your carier to hae them go after the other insurance and get all your money back. Your insurance will probably try to get the deductible back for you.

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8/18/07, 4:55 pm

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