Will I be liable if water running from my property leaks onto the road causing ice?

UPDATED: Dec 16, 2010

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Will I be liable if water running from my property leaks onto the road causing ice?

My local code says that I cannot discharge sump pump water into the sewer. I have it flowing out of my house via garden hose onto my land. Runoff is going about 30′ away and into the street. This time of year it can cause ice. Due to the size of my lot and having only 1 window in the basement, I can only run outside in this area. Am I liable if a car gets into an accident from this ice? Will my insurer cover me?

Asked on December 16, 2010 under Accident Law, New Hampshire


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

1) You would be liable if you cause an ice condition in this way that causes an accident. This would be, depending on the state of knowledge that could be imputed or proven to/for you, be either an intentional bad act, a reckless one, or at least a negligent (careless one)--any of which would suffice to establish liability. (Given that you know it can cause ice, it's probably intentional or reckless.)

2) Your insurer would probably not cover you, if they felt (and felt they could establish) that what you were doing was reckless or intentional--i.e. that you either knew it would cause ice or recklessly and cavelierly disregared a substantial risk.

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