Who’s responsibility is it to pay for damage caused by a falling shingle?

Our 4-5year old roof is in good condition but due to bad weather a few weeks back, the shingle came out and it fell on our neighbor’s car leaving a dent. Our homeowner’s insurance company has refused to pay and now the neighbor has sent us a notice asking for their $1000 deductible. Are we liable to pay?

Asked on May 16, 2016 under Insurance Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You are not automatically liable for the damage: it depends on whether you were at fault which, in a case like this, generally comes down to maintenance. If the roof was in good shape, and you can show that it was (e.g. by photographs; by your own testimony) that it was, and the shingle only fell due to the bad weather with no reason to have previously thought there was a risk of this, then you should not be liable. Conversely, if the neighbors could somehow show that the roof was in bad shape--e.g. if they have other shingles which have come off your roof and landed on their property, which tends to show poor repair or condition--they could win their case.


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