If a visitor lays a cigarette in an ash tray and it falls out of the ash tray and starts a fire, whose liable – the tenant or their visitor?

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If a visitor lays a cigarette in an ash tray and it falls out of the ash tray and starts a fire, whose liable – the tenant or their visitor?

Asked on January 27, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Georgia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

A person who damages another's property is liable for the cost to repair, so legally, if your daughter did cause or contribute to the fire, such as by placing a burning cigarrette down in an ash tray were it could easily fall or be knocked over, she could be held responsible for the costs. However, the issue is whether what she did--i.e. the way she put down the cigarrette, especially in light of a dog being in the room; and/or the fact that she evidently left a lit cigarrette unattended (since if she was present, she would have seen it fall and could have stopped the fire before it really got going)--was negligent, or careless. If it was negligent, she would be liable; if not (if she was not careless), she would not be.


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