My downstairs neighbor’s insurance co. is suing me saying that I am responsible for the damage caused by a leak. Shouldn’t the association should pay?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Dec 13, 2011

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Insurance Question from Escondido, CA

Asked on 12/13/2011

My downstairs neighbor’s insurance co. is suing me saying that I am responsible for the damage caused by a leak. Shouldn’t the association should pay? Unfortunately I let my condo insurance lapse for a bit. During that lapse period, my downstairs neighbor filed a claim with her insurance for a leak that happened. It was found that the leak was caused by the failure to maintain drainage lines. That sounds like the claim should be paid by the association's insurance company and not by me. I spoke with homeowners and they need to review documentation to make a determination. I have tried countless times to get that documentation, but the insurance company won't release anything to me. They want payment.

Answer given on December 14, 2011

Since you did not have condominium insurance at the time of loss, there would be no insurance company for you to turn to for the damages. You should suggest that your neighbor file a claim with her insurance company for her damages. Then her company will review the claim, and may determine there was negligence by you that caused the loss. There must be negligence shown before you would be responsible for the damages. If there was no negligence on your part, there would be no responsibility on your part. If there was, then the insurance company may come after you for reimbursement.At the same time, you should review your CC&Rs (conditions, covenants & restrictions) of the HOA to see what is considered your responsibility and what is theirs. In most cases the HOA is responsible for the building up to the unfinished walls and you are responsible for the interior, from bare walls in. If the drainage pipe is in the area that the HOA is responsible to maintain, then they will need to file the claim with their insurance. In addition, the adjuster for the other person will review the CC&Rs to see if the HOA is responsible for the damages.

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