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Question DetailsAsked on 1/30/2017

If I was watering my tree on my front lawn and my neighbor's car was parked in front, am I liable for water damage?

I have been in an ongoing battle with my neighbor about parking in front of my house when she has plenty of room to park in front of her own. She deliberitely parks so I am unable to drive directly in front of my home and park. It rained in December and she is claiming water damage to her car. She claims it is due to me watering my tree with a hose and purposely watering her car. Am I liable for her damages? If I pay her deductible will I also have to pay her insurance who will come after me?

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Obviously this is a question for a lawyer, but some considerations:


0) in general, it is not illegal for a person to park in front of the neighbor's house unless you have legal parking spaces allocated to specific buildings - which is very rare on public streets. In a few towns a person is supposed to park in front of their house if space is available, but police are pretty unlikely to enforce that.


1) can she prove it was your sprinkler rather than the rain which did the damage


2) if she is just claiming this now, can she even prove when the damage occurred, and that it occurred when parked in front of your place and by your sprinkler


3) if this was due not from a sprinkler but her claiming you intentionally turned the hose on the car and put water in it, wht proof does she have - and why did she not immediately call the police if she saw you doing it (as she claimed)


Just how serious to take this is your call - obviously this is a bad situation getting worse, so I would suspect getting an attorney specializing in personal liability claims on board earlier than later would be wise.


Whether and when you notify your homeowner's insurance carrier is an issue too - talk with the attorney first if you are going that route, because whjile this might result in a personal liability claim against you which the insurance would cover, talking to them early about a potential claim is smart in theory BUT with many carriers just letting them know about a potential claim amounts to a claim in their books and can result in a premium increase. On the flip side, if your neighbor is claiming something that your insurance might cover, if you go to them about it they will typically provide the legal representation at their cost (subject to your policy terms and limits) - so a tough call if you don't know how serious she is about this.


Assumnig you did NOT do it intentionally, I certainly would NOT make any payments with an attorney on board, because not only does that make you look guilty, but that might open the floodgates for endless other claims - related and unrelated.


If your sprinkler did get water in her car, your responsibility would be determined by potentially a number of factors - is it illegal or against code to water so water gets in the street (is in some areas), were you violating law by watering when it was lnot legal to do so (in water restriction areas), was the watering started after or before she parked there, does the law in your state hold you liable for wster getting in a car (thoguh an open window) from sprinkling when a rainfall would have had the same result (making the damage the result of her negligence in leaving the window open), etc. This is the sort of case that keeps lawyers in bread and butter.

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IF you did intentionally water her car and get water in it (whether or not you knew the window was open), you are liable - for all the damages, because even if her auto policy covers the loss (other than deductible) they will then come after you for the total amount of the damages plus probably their legal costs.


Plus if you did it, she can file criminal charges against you for something like malicious damage or vandalism or such.

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One other thing for attorney to consider, given what you ahve said (and assuming you did not intentionally of knowlingly get water in her car) is whether she in a danger to the public and you, possibly pointing toward either (or both) a restraining order against her or arrest on filing false charges (if she reports you to the police) or even possibly need for a pulbic committment hearing because she does not have enough marbles to be safe.


Also - if she sounds like she is considering filing a criminal complaint, it might be best to have the police come and talk to them about her claim and any threats, so it is on record (with an incident report) that you talked to them first about her false claims.

Answered 1 year ago by LCD




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