Property Damage From A Neighbor
Jan. 29, 2023
Common instances of a neighbor causing property damage include leaking or broken water hoses, leaky sprinkler heads, broken, frozen or burst water pipes, and even clogged rain gutters. Additionally, if a neighbor has landscaped or altered the property in some way that causes more water to run onto your land than would naturally occur, you may have some recourse to recover any damages to your property.
For example, if a tree from your neighbor’s yard causes damage to your property, it’s the responsibility of that person to report a claim to his or her insurer. Examples of tree damage from a neighbor include damage to a house, a car, a boat, or other valuable property; damage to other landscaping such as shrubs or trees; and damage to a car due to a fallen tree.
The steps to consider when a neighbor causes property damage are as follows:
Talk to your neighbor to see if they are aware of the damage caused;
If your neighbor acts unreasonably or carelessly with water on their own property, you can sue for compensation;
Prepare your evidence to show to the judge that the person you are suing caused the damage;
If the damage occurred due to the other party's negligence, file a claim against them and their property insurance may provide liability insurance coverage;
If the other party does not have insurance, determine if they are collectible;
File a claim against their property insurance policy; and
If a lawsuit is necessary, contact a property attorney for assistance.
In order to succeed in a lawsuit against a neighbor, you need proof showing that your neighbor did something to the land or property, that the action caused the damage to your property, and that the damages are of a certain amount. New Jersey follows what is commonly known as the “reasonable use rule.” This means that residential neighbors can potentially be held liable for damages caused by a tree or shrub, or other vegetation growing on their property, even if the tree or shrub was in their yard when the damage occurred.
Additionally, the New Jersey Appellate Division addressed damage caused by tree roots to a neighbor’s property, finding that property owners are liable for the damage caused by tree roots if the roots encroach upon the neighbor’s property.
However, if branches fall and cause damage on your property for any reason other than a storm or act of God, your neighbor is responsible for the damage.