Defending Against a Lawsuit After the Neighbors' Kid Fell Off Our Wall...
We recently built a wall in front of our house after the old one fell. It was finished. All that was left was to wait for grass to grow and possibly paint it. Our next door neighbors are very irresponsible and leave their three year old to run the streets by himself.
We received a letter the other day saying they were suing us because their child fell from our wall that was "under construction" and fractured his wrist. The note said it happened at 9:30 PM. Why were they letting him play on our wall at 9:30 at night? Isn't that trespassing? The mother even swore to me a few months ago that she not only kept her kid out of our yard, but that she kept other neighborhood kids out as well.
The wall is not under construction, it’s done. And why was the kid on our property in the first place? Where were his parents?
They want to go after our home owners insurance and raise our rates.
Almost every house on our block has a wall like ours, including the complaining neighbor. They can't even prove it happened on our wall. Unfortunately, I'm worried their friends will lie and back them up for the money.
Is there anything we can do to protect ourselves against this?
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ANSWER for "Defending Against a Lawsuit After the Neighbors' Kid Fell Off Our Wall...":
Anonymous (Philadelphia, PA):
There isn’t any way to stop her from suing you.It is virtually impossible to stop someone if they decide to file a lawsuit.
The best way to protect yourself is by immediately contacting your homeowners insurance company. When you do they will assign your case to a Claims Adjuster. She will call you back within a few days after reporting the claim.
When she does be sure to tell her about the letter. She will want you to fax it to her. It is very important for you to make contact with your insurance company as soon as possible after your receipt of the letter from you neighbor.
Failure to conatct your insurance company about the incident can result in their failing tio defend you in your claim. Just because you contact your homeowners insurance company doesn’t mean your insurance premiums will rise.
People receive threatening letters from neighbors all the time. There is always someone who thinks a minor cut or abrasion is worth a million dollars. It doesn’t work that way.
Your Adjuster will begin an investigation. The last thing she wants to do is pay a claim. Insurance companies don’t like giving away their money when they don’t have to. Your Adjuster will ask you for a recorded statement. That’s normal. Just give her the facts. She will contact your neighbor and proceed from there.
Even though the child shouldn’t have been on your property, the fact that she was able to enter upon it and climb the wall makes you liable to some degree; but not entirely. Children are not meant to understand the laws of trespassing.
If her injuries were minor, and the Adjuster thinks you have some liability she may pay the claim, but you can be confident it won’t be much more than the cost of the child's medical bills.
If your neighbor doesn’t accept it and wants to go ahead with the suit your insurance company will assign their expert lawyers to represent you at no cost.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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