There was a 3 alarm fire that started in an overgrown, rundown, garbage filled abandoned multi car garage that my landlord owns. It connected to the backyard of the apartment complex and could be entered through the garage door connecting the two properties.
There was a small fire on the back deck 1 year prior to this fire and the landlord was instructed to repair this property. But he hadn’t done it prior to the fire that started in this area, then spread to the apartment complex.
I lost 90% of my belongings due to the fire as well as supposed looters that went into the building (since it was left open and dilapidated from the fire and elements for 3 months afterwards).
Do I have a case to sue his insurance for my lost damages, since it was due to his negligence that the fire occurred?
This property was clearly a fire hazard and had been for at least the 6 years I lived there. (This property has been nicknamed “the pit” due to all the garbage, overgrown vegetation, feral animals, and remnants of a caved-in roof.) Also, he was instructed to make these repairs on the property nearly a year prior but failed to do so.
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.
Your landlord has a legal duty of care to do everything within reason to protect his tenants from undue harm and property damage. Based on the facts, it appears the fire which destroyed your property started in an “overgrown, rundown, garbage filled abandoned multi car garage” owned by your landlord.
In this case, the landlord’s negligence seems clear, especially as he was previously warned of the danger the garbage posed, and wholly failed to take appropriate action to remove what he had to know was a fire hazard.
Try to find receipts for the property damaged in the fire. If you are unable to find receipts, try to locate photos of the damaged property. Ask the landlord to provide you with the name of his insurance company, the policy number and the insurance company’s contact information. With that information in hand, contact the insurance company and file a claim.
In the event your landlord will not cooperate, and refuses to provide you with his insurance information, you can consider filing a Small Claims Lawsuit. In the State of Ohio, Small Claims Courts have jurisdiction to hear cases up to $3,000.
In the event the cost of replacing your damaged property falls within the jurisdictional amount, you can proceed. If the cost of replacing your property damage exceeds $3,000, and you want to continue, you will have to consider filing your lawsuit in one of Ohio’s higher courts.
For information on filing an Ohio Small Claims Court lawsuit see: Small Claims Court – A Citizens Guide
Learn more here: Apartment Building Injury Claims
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.
We wish you the best with your claim,
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