Am I liable for my home collapse?

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Am I liable for my home collapse?

I own a home in Soldotna, Alaska live in Florida. While showing the home to a prospective home
buyer, some structural damage to the home was noted. I notified my homeowners insurer State
Farm, and they denied any liability, claiming earth movement and ground water items not
covered. I hired a professional structural engineer, and his inspection and assessment do not
agree with the State Farm assessment. The engineer believes there was evidence of fraud and cover-
up of the damage and there is evidence the home should have never been built on this site. His
official report is pending. As of today, November 22, 2016, the house is deemed unsafe for
occupancy and estimated repairs are to be more than 20,000. It is possible that the previous
owners took steps to conceal and cover-up the damage. In addition, our home inspector before
purchasing the property revealed no issues with the home.

Asked on November 22, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Alaska

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The home inspector would not be liable--they are not responsible for finding issues like this, which are not reasonably apparent on inspection.
The prior home owner (the one who sold to you) *may* be liable IF they knew about the problem(s) but, knowing of them, deliberately hid or concealed them from you--this would be fraud. You'd have to be able to prove that they did know, or logically must have known (no reasonable way for somone in their situation to not know) of the problem. Also, you would have had to have bought the home within the last 10 years, since the statute of limitations, or time to sue for fraud, in your state is 10 years.
As to the insurer: they have to pay when the terms of the policy say they do, and only when the policy says they must: the policy is a contract. If you believe that under the terms of the policy, they should pay now, you can sue them for breach of contract.


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