Who is reponsible for my damages in excess of what my renter’s insurance will cover?

I stay at rental apartment. There was fire incident at my neighbor and it was contained without spreading to my apartment. Firefighters however to check the attic entered my apartment and broke the ceiling, which happens to have asbestos. Now I need to cleanup the apartment and dump the infested furniture.My renters insurance has deductible of $5000 and I estimate the cost of the cleanup/dumping personal stuff not to be exceeding it. Would the neighbor or his insurance liable to reimburse me that amount or it would be all me responsible?

Asked on January 11, 2013 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The neighbor may be liable IF the neighbor was at fault in causing the fire--for example, it started because he was unreasonably careless, such as smoking in bed, using a stove to heat the apartment, leaving a pot unattended on a lit  burner, etc. If he was not at fault, however, then he would not be liable; liability in a case like this depends on fault. His insurance would not have to pay unless he is determined (such as in a lawsuit) to be at fault and to have to pay you.

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