Am I responsible for the deductible if large tree on the property of my apartment complex rotted out and a large branch snapped and fell onto my vehicle leaving a lot of cosmetic damage?

I spoke to the complex and they said their insurance would take care of me. This happened on a Friday at around 4 pm; it is now Monday morning I have not heard a word from the insurance company. The complex keeps telling me to wait for the call. I need to get to work and do not have a car. If I use my own auto insurance, I will have to pay a $500 deductible. Should I seek legal help or just wait?

Asked on July 20, 2015 under Accident Law, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

The complex would not be liable, or responsible to pay, unless they were at fault; fault in a case like this means they actully knew that the branch was rotted (such as  because someone, like a tree service or landscapper or tenant warned them) and in danger of falling, or logically *must* have known (e.g. the branch was in some place very visible to the landlord's staff, and the fact that it was rotted was obvious on even casual inspection), and despite knowing, failed to take action. If they did not have knowledge of the threat, and would not reasonably have been expected to have knowledge, they would not be liable.

Even if they were liable, if you have a $500 deductible, that's the most you could recover (i.e. you can only get what you have to actually pay out of pocket)--it is not likely to be the case that a $500 lawsuit is worthwhile.

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