What can I do if I was blamed for damage to a neighbor’s house?

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What can I do if I was blamed for damage to a neighbor’s house?

A few weeks ago, we had a snowstorm bringing a foot of snow. When the snow was finished I went outside and snow-blowed my driveway. Once I finished snow-blowing I went inside and that was that. That night my neighbor’s landlord came knocking and told me I blew snow against his house and that it ruined the paneling without actually wiping the snow away. I went outside and saw that in fact there was snow stuck on the side of the house as happens to my house also with no problem seeing it can easily be wiped off. Now that the snow is melted he caught me outside and pointed out damage and

told me that I would have to pay for it. Personally, I believe that, that damage was there beforehand and that he is trying to pin the blame on me as he does not want to pay for it. In my opinion, there is no way that simple snow stuck to the side of a house could cause such damage and that there had to be a prior cause. I asking to see if it is possible that I do not have to compensate him for something that I do not believe I did.

Asked on March 8, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

IF you did not cause the damage--for example, if it was pre-existing--you do not have to pay for it. You can simply ignore him if you believe that you are not responsible for this, unless and until he actually sues you; if he sues you, you have to respond as per court instructions (which vary by which court he sues you in; e.g. the procedures are different for small claims vs. non-small claims court) or else lose by "default" (like forfeiting a ball game by not showing up for it). If you are sued, you could choose to pay the amount, if it's small enough that you'd rather pay then go through the trouble of litigation; try to settle, by working out some amount with him you are willing to pay--if you do, get the agreement in writing; or defend the case. If you defend, since he is suing you, he will have to prove by a "preponderance of the evidence" (or that it is "more likely than not") that you caused the damage. If he can't do that, he will not win and you will not have to pay.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

IF you did not cause the damage--for example, if it was pre-existing--you do not have to pay for it. You can simply ignore him if you believe that you are not responsible for this, unless and until he actually sues you; if he sues you, you have to respond as per court instructions (which vary by which court he sues you in; e.g. the procedures are different for small claims vs. non-small claims court) or else lose by "default" (like forfeiting a ball game by not showing up for it). If you are sued, you could choose to pay the amount, if it's small enough that you'd rather pay then go through the trouble of litigation; try to settle, by working out some amount with him you are willing to pay--if you do, get the agreement in writing; or defend the case. If you defend, since he is suing you, he will have to prove by a "preponderance of the evidence" (or that it is "more likely than not") that you caused the damage. If he can't do that, he will not win and you will not have to pay.


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