Can you hold a municipality responsible for damage to your home?

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Can you hold a municipality responsible for damage to your home?

My home was built over a 22′ storm drain. The drain is collapsing and there has been 3 sinkholes in my yard and another one is forming in our crawlspace. The last sinkhole was just outside my front door, which the town did a temporary repair of a 2′ section. There is damage to my foundation, flooring,

cabinetry, roof, walls and my driveway and sidewalk have sunk. The Town has been aware of the collapsing tile for 5 years and have done nothing, except the temporary repair this past January. They are now working to re-route the tile but claim they are not liable for any of the damage to my home.

Asked on June 12, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

They may be liable because 1) the storm drain is evidently under their control and 2) they evidently know of the problem and have known for years (you write they have been aware of the collapsing tile for 5 years). When someone is aware of a condition under their control which is damaging or likely may damage another's property, their failure to take reasonable steps (i.e. more than "temporary" repairs) may be negligent and make them liable for the cost to repair any damage. Do not accept the town's claim that they are not liable at face value; consult with an attorney about possibly suing them.


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