Visitor Question

What is our recourse in collecting monies for damaged building caused by adjoining building’s collapse?

Submitted By: Howard (Missouri)

On May 30, 2010, in the historical downtown district of Louisiana, Missouri, a building collapsed & damaged the building next to it.

We own the damaged building. It has been determined that due to our good care of our building, the rest of the buildings were spared the domino effect & damage to the whole block of historic buildings.

Neither insurance company will pay for the damage caused to our building because there is no verbage in the insurance policies that cover “collapsing buildings which damage adjoining buildings. The building that collapsed has been neglected for years, which we can prove. The owners were aware that their building was in disrepair.

The preliminary report by the insurance company representing the owners of the collapsed building is saying that “hidden causes” within the building caused the collapse, (resulting in a claim for the owners of the property) that damaged our building.

It is estimated that the damage to our building which we purchased and updated in 2006 will cost us approximately $100,000. To view the incident:

Louisiana, Missouri: Louisiana Press Journal,

“Building (Rainbow Florist) collapses in downtown Louisiana, Missouri.

Presently, we have no recourse than to let our building fall into complete disrepair or let the city have it. I would appreciate any information that you can provide me.

We are in shock & disbelief that something like this can happen.

Thank you for your time.

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 Howard,

Your story is amazing which is why I assume it made the news! You have a few options, although I must admit at the outset that these are speculative at best:

1. Attempting to sue any governmental entity would require that you first exhaust administrative remedies. One of these remedies is typically a claim form provided by the city which usually must be completed within 6 months of the occurrence.

Whilst you may not have been thinking of doing this, I would just as a paper trail of documenting what has occurred for any future/potential litigation.

Your claim against the city would be in the realm of failure to enforce code violations by the party whose building collapsed and is probably most closely related to a negligence per se cause of action.

2. You need to go as high up as possible when dealing with insurance adjusters. Often liability, hence payments, is based upon interpretation of policy language.

3. You also have the option of suing your neighbor personally for negligence and conversion, both of which are torts.

4. No doubt you have done this, but you must document everything with photographs because I would expect that at some point you will either remove your building or commence construction.

In either case, you will have lost valuable evidence that is necessary to prove any potential case. Along with this, you may wish to bring in your own appraiser/contractors to provide estimates of damage and possibly an engineer dealing with such catastrophic events like this to substantiate your claim that your building was damaged through the fault of your neighbor.

This individual must have superior credentials as you will need them as an expert in the event your case goes to trial. In sum, this is a complex situation that will need a lot of documentation.

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: June 5, 2010

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2 thoughts on “What is our recourse in collecting monies for damaged building caused by adjoining building’s collapse?

  1. Interestingly enough, the only building codes at the time of the building collapse was an inspection of apartments before they are rented.

    I understand that the city council is working on a building inspection for historical buildings.

    The collapse of the flower shop was preceded by
    an adjoining theater building, which was incinerated by an explosive a number of years ago.

    The removal of the theater ruins left the flower shop without a structural wall. It was stuccoed and left in that state until its collapse.

    What I do not understand is how our city can accept US Federal grants from the Dept. of Interior for Main Street USA and not develop a plan for the safety and well being of these buildings and the people who own and work in them?

  2. This is most helpful. The insurance companies move slowly. And I think this is the time for a construction lawyer. Thank you!

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