If my neighbor’s house burned and damaged some bushes and trees, as well as killed my vegetable garden, can I make a claim?

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If my neighbor’s house burned and damaged some bushes and trees, as well as killed my vegetable garden, can I make a claim?

How do I determine the value?

Asked on June 11, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Your neighbor would only be responsible for your loss if you can show that he or she either 1) set the fire deliberately; or 2) was negligent (or unreasonably careless) in causing the fire--smoking in bed, using a hibachi or unsafe heater inside the house, etc. If the neighbor was not at fault, he is not responsible for  your loss; your neighbor is not your insurer, and he/she would only be liable to the extent he or she is at fault.

You cannot submit a claim to your neighbor's insurance--it does not cover you, it protects him or  her. If your neighbor were at fault and therefore liable, his or her insurer might (depending on what coverage he or she has) step in to settle and/or pay.

You can,k of course, submit a claim to your own homeowner's insurance, as long as the plain terms of the policy indicate that you are covered. If  you are covered, you could potentally recover the cost to replace the damaged plantings (and or get a "tree doctor" to care for the tree, if that's less expensive). This would be the pure economic cost, and does not take into account the effort you may have put into the plantings.


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