A dispute between neighbors isn’t something anyone wants to endure, unless you’re retired; then it becomes a natural, mutual battle of wits. However, if your neighbor’s sprinkler system is causing water damage to your property, tempers can flare, and the fun bickering match can quickly turn into something serious.
Water is everywhere, and used for everything, natural or man-made. It runs through the pipes in your home to provide everyday necessities and falls from the storming, cloud-filled sky to provide the earth with sustenance. Unfortunately, such a beautiful thing is also one of the leading causes of property damage. Water damage is one of the top five most commonly cited home insurance claims in the United States.
If you’re at-fault or partially at-fault for the damage, it’s easier to get it repaired. But what do you do when it’s your neighbor who’s causing the damage to your home and it’s beyond your control?
First, you should familiarize yourself with FLOOD DAMAGE LAWS. Flood damage laws pertain to surface water damage, and they protect your rights as a homeowner against damage to your property whether it is caused by nature or careless neighbors.
Below are the three rules under surface water laws:
- Reasonable Use – A court will decide if a circumstance is unreasonable. An example of this would be if your neighbor’s old or clogged gutters caused water to overflow onto your property which flooded your basement.
- Common Enemy – a random damage of property, in which you should be prepared for such occurrences.
- Civil Law – changing the natural flow of surface water, resulting in damage to another’s property.
It’s important to be aware that each state’s surface water laws vary.
To find out more about surface water laws, check out FindLaw.com.
There are a few instances when you can’t sue or point fingers at your neighbor for the water damage they’ve caused. For example, rain water falling from your neighbor’s roof is a natural occurrence. Unless the neighbor has recently landscaped his yard, messing with the slopes the rain used to travel to the streets, there’s nothing you can do about it.
If you find yourself in a situation where surface water exceeds friendly neighboring, one of the three rules above can protect your lawful right to sue your neighbor, at which point, you should consider consulting a lawyer.
Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with flood damage law, it’s time to begin looking at your current policy with your home or properties’ insurance provider.
Each insurance company will have different policies, depending on company, the amount of coverage, and state laws. The type of damage your property has sustained and how it occurred may or may not be covered under your policy. To review what you’re currently covered for, contact your home’s insurance agency.
Keep in mind, many insurance agency policies only cover natural surface water damage.
It is important to report the damage immediately to your insurance provider, and the circumstance that led and followed the damage. Many reported claims fail because of an untimely report. Occasionally, an insurance company will deny your claim. If you believe this denial is inaccurate, consult a lawyer for an appeal.
If the lawyer finds you have a case against your neighbor, you can sue for the costs of your damage. At this point, the court may also ask your neighbor to fix the problems which are causing damage to your property, as well as pay for any medical bills that have risen due to the damage, and other compensation for the repairs.
For example, the court could ask your neighbor to replace and repair defective gutters. In rare, but concerning cases, the court can ask your neighbor to remove a tree on their property that may be damaging your home’s water pipes.
If the dispute between you and your neighbor becomes immediately concerning, i.e. revenge damage to your property, contact your local police station. They can act as a temporary mediator until the problem is resolved.
Water, while life-giving, is also property destroying. It is difficult to contain, and your homeowners insurance policy should cover certain types of water damage. If you are currently experiencing devastation to your home and property because of a neighbor’s negligence, contact an experienced flood damage attorney today and see how you can pursue your case and repair the damage to your property.