Visitor Question

Neighbor Injured Himself While Helping Me…

Submitted By: Anonymous (USA)

I had gotten in a car accident (for which I was at fault), right around the corner from my home. My bumper was still hanging on. I called my neighbor to bring a crescent wrench to help unscrew it. My car’s damage was just the bumper being partially ripped off. It was perfectly drivable, except for the bumper hanging there.

When I called I said, “Can you bring a crescent wrench? I think it can be unscrewed, if not, then maybe we can tear it.” He arrived a few minutes later and didn’t even assess the bolt connecting the bumper. Instead he immediately started pounding with a hammer. I never asked him to bring a hammer. He then proceeded to hammer it with the crescent wrench.

He lost his grip on the wrench, it hit and chipped my car’s fender, then smacked him in the mouth and broke his tooth. The repair for his tooth was $1,200. I have not been sued yet, but he’s the type to do so. He is ignoring me when I attempt to say hello.

Am I responsible legally or in any way at fault for all of this? Thanks.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Anonymous,

That’s a complicated question. You needed your neighbor’s help and invited him to help. You didn’t mention if you offered to pay him something for the assistance. If you had agreed to pay him a certain amount, then he in effect, was working for you.

If that was the case, then he had a duty to you to repair your car. Any damage to your car, or to his tooth can arguably be his fault.

In the alternative, if you invited him just to do you a favor, and he was hurt while helping you, his injuries can arguably be your fault.

This is a grey area of the law.

If you have car or homeowner’s insurance, and this neighbor asks you to pay for the damage to your tooth, contact your car insurance company first, and then your homeowners.

If you don’t want to wait that long, call the insurance companies now. Ask them about coverage. They won’t hold anything against you for just asking a question about liability.

Report the accident. Explain exactly what happened. Leave it to them to investigate the incident. If they decide you are liable, they will probably pay his claim. His claim won’t be worth very much. It will probably be no more than the cost of repair to his tooth.

If they don’t believe you are liable, they will not pay him. It’s really nothing to be worried about. Your insurance company will protect you.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: September 8, 2011

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