Personal property damage, who’s liable?

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Personal property damage, who’s liable?

In Oregon who’s liable for a temporary
Cyclone construction fence installed by
a contractor that falls on a private
vehicle on a public Street? Does it
matter if the wind blew it over or if
unknown individuals pulled over on the
cars? Who has liability?

Asked on January 5, 2017 under Accident Law, Oregon

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If the fence were not properly set up--and you can *prove* that it was not properly set up (which may be difficult to do, as a practical matter)--and that caused it to fall, then you may be able to hold the fence company liable, on the grounds that their negligence (carelessness) in how they set it up led to the damage.
But if it was properly set up and fell because unknown persons pulled it over, then the fence company would not be liable (and their insurer would not pay) because they are not liable for the wrongful acts of persons not under their control, the same you would not be liable if someone picked up your chair and hit another person--owning property does not make you liable for a third party's wrongful acts. (If you could ever identify the at-fault parties who knocked the fence down, you could sue them.)
And they also would not be liable if an unusually high wind knocked down the fence, because an unusually high wind is also not something under their control, and so is not something they are liable or responsible for. 
So only if you can show that the fence fell due to improper contruction or set-up could you hold the fence company liable. You need fault to hold the liable.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If the fence were not properly set up--and you can *prove* that it was not properly set up (which may be difficult to do, as a practical matter)--and that caused it to fall, then you may be able to hold the fence company liable, on the grounds that their negligence (carelessness) in how they set it up led to the damage.
But if it was properly set up and fell because unknown persons pulled it over, then the fence company would not be liable (and their insurer would not pay) because they are not liable for the wrongful acts of persons not under their control, the same you would not be liable if someone picked up your chair and hit another person--owning property does not make you liable for a third party's wrongful acts. (If you could ever identify the at-fault parties who knocked the fence down, you could sue them.)
And they also would not be liable if an unusually high wind knocked down the fence, because an unusually high wind is also not something under their control, and so is not something they are liable or responsible for. 
So only if you can show that the fence fell due to improper contruction or set-up could you hold the fence company liable. You need fault to hold the liable.


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