P.A. from Fairfield County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
A car was parked in the parking space in front of the garage of my condo when ice fell from roof and damaged the car. Who is responsible for repairs?
Mister Condo replies:
P.A., I am not an attorney so please consider this advice as friendly and not legal. If you require legal advice kindly seek out the counsel of a qualified attorney. I am sorry to learn that a car was damaged from falling ice from the roof of your condo garage. I am thankful that your story did not include any injury to people. Insurance claims have really piled up this year due to ice damming, flooding, and such. Yours is the first question I have received about ice-related vehicular damage. The short answer is “it depends” and what it depends upon is the dollar amount of the damage, what type of insurance the vehicle owner had, and how much he or she is willing to pursue the damage claim.
For the most part, people have car insurance for the same reason they have homeowner’s insurance. It protects their investment from potential liability. Liability is a combination of replacement value for the damage caused and fault. A brand new Mercedes is worth a lot more than a 12 year-old Chevy so we need to begin with how much damage was done and how much the car is worth. Let’s assume there was $1000 in damage to a 5 year-old car for our example. If the car is insured against damage by the owner for $8000 and the owner wants to put in a claim for the $1000 he certainly can. His insurance company will likely honor his claim, less any deductible, and the claim is considered settled. The car owner may wish to sue third parties for the deductible in which case he would likely name the association and the unit owner (you). If so, you may need to appear in court or file a brief with the court stating that you have no control over the roof of your condo and that the building exterior maintenance is the responsibility of the association. The court can then do with that information what it decides.
If the dollar amounts are smaller, it is unlikely that anything will occur. The larger the dollar amounts, the more likely there will be legal action brought. That is what insurance is for. You may need to notify your own homeowner’s insurance carrier if there is a suit and you are named. Otherwise, the car owner will likely just let his insurance company handle the matter.
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