What is a property owner’s liability for a fire on their property that caused damage to a neighbor’s home?

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What is a property owner’s liability for a fire on their property that caused damage to a neighbor’s home?

My mother lives in a row home and the property next to her had trash on the porch that was set on fire causing damage to her vinyl siding. The property is in forecclosure and being sold. My mothers homeowner’s insurance has a $1000 deductible. Can the real estate or the bank be held responsible for the deductible? The damage was estimated at just under $1200.

Asked on June 10, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The owner of the property whose trash burned would be liable for negligence for the damage to your mother's vinyl siding.  Since the property is in foreclosure, your mother would want to name the homeowner, the bank and the real estate agency as defendants in her lawsuit for negligence.

In a lawsuit, in addition to the named defendants, you always want to include and DOES  1 through 10, Inclusive listed as defendants.  DOES are fictitious persons added in case any defendants were omitted from the lawsuit.

Since the damage to the vinyl siding is approximately $1200, your mother could file her lawsuit in Small Claims Court.  Her damages (the amount she is seeking to recover in her lawsuit) would include the $1200 cost of repairs plus court costs.  Court costs would include the court filing fee and process server fee.  Out-of-pocket costs such as the deductible would be included in the damages.


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