Can my landlord’s insurance company sue me for an accidental grease fire?

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Can my landlord’s insurance company sue me for an accidental grease fire?

An accidental grease fire started in the kitchen. I was home alone and managed to get the fire out before the fire department showed up. My landlord (father-in-law) decided along with his estimator to remodel the whole house -paint every room, put in wood flooring, replace light fixtures and appliances. Now his insurance company is saying that I was negligent in some way and want me to pay them $33,000. they say that if I don’t send 329 payments of $100 per month they will get a judgment for 25% of my wages and put a lien on property. This happened in GA; I now live in TX.

Asked on April 21, 2011 under Insurance Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you were in fact negligent, or careless, in causing the grease fire, then  you would be liable for any property damage. However, (1) if you disagree, you can make them sue you and prove it (and present any evidence, etc. in your favor)--they must be able to prove your negligence if you go to court; and (2) you are only responsible for the damage actually done by the fire even if you are at fault--the landlord can't use this as an opportunity to remodel. Given how much they are trying to get from you, it's worthwhile consulting wiith an attorney about the situation--it's possible that if there was fraud, you may even have a counter claim of your own.

Finally, if you are found liable and have to pay an unsupportable amount, don't forget bankruptcy as an option.


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