As a rule, neighbors cannot be considered liable if the damaged is caused by natural conditions of the land. The “common enemy” rule and the “civil law” rul the reasonableness rule, these rules aree And this action results to you having accumulated water runoffs in your backyard as well as house there might be a case where your neighbor does landscaping around his or her property. And a very soggy garden as a result of leaks or bursts of water that comes from a defective water pipe, legal Disputes among neighbors over water runoffs or flooding usually happens when water ensues to damage property like the collapsing of a retaining wall, blocked drainage or a frozen line of water having a flooded basement.
Legally it is not the fault of the resident owner from where the runoff comes from if the topography or terrain of land lies in a manner where water can accumulate in the backyard annually due to runoffs from a neighbor’s property. Man made activities are the ones which often gives rise to disagreements between neighbors while both sources of water damage bring about considerable anxiety to a landowner whose property is destroyed.
The Three Different Rules on Water Damage Disputes
The rule of reasonableness happens when a neighbor changes the land that eventually leads to the damage of another, wherein he or she is liable for any damage if the alteration has been “unreasonable.” Should you decide to sue your neighbor over the damages which your property sustained, the courts will require that you present tangible proofs or evidences that your neighbor has in fact done something unreasonable that has changed the natural condition of the land and gave rise to your predicament.
Before going any further, the reasonableness of your neighbor’s action will be decided by the courts on an individual case-to-case basis. In determining if an action is unreasonable, a court will look at the following aspects of the case:
1. The improvements’ nature and importance completed by the culvert;
2. If the damage was a foreseeable event by the individuals who did the changes, and;
3. The value of improvements done in comparison to the level of the damage.
Exceptions along with modifications have been done at present where the attitudes and bearings or both parties involved are scrutinized prior to the actual subjecting of the upper landowner to foot the entire bill. While the common enemy rule necessitates landowners to secure and look out for their properties, the civil law rule considers landowners who have high ground properties liable for whichever damaging changes they have done that affects the natural channel of water runoffs.
The states no longer impose or uphold the civil law rule to the letter similar to the common enemy rule. The common enemy regarded here is the excessive rain water that damages any property indiscriminately. This includes but is not limited to protecting the property from a neighbor who lives on a higher ground that prevented his or her own flooding by finding a way to dump all the excess water on your property (with or without malice). This is the opposite of the common enemy rule theoretically. The “common enemy” rule on the other hand subjects land owners who live or reside at a lower ground or level to protect themselves against any water damage that may likely occur.
Some states which still follow the “common enemy” rule is comprised of New York, Montana and others have amended it. Both parties are expected to act reasonably including the responsibility of the lower landowner to take steps in order to protect his or her property from flooding and other water damages brought about by too much rain wate in the state of Californiar The “civil law” rule in comparison to the common enemy rule pertains more to landowners who have properties above ground or at higher levels. Said states permit owners of properties to channel or redirect itinerant surface water in cases where the work is not considered unusual and the property owner has utilized reasonable care to prevent the damage of any adjoining property. The civil law rule holds an individual liable for harm or damage done if the natural flow of surface water has been altered to create such damage.
Water Damage Due to Carelessness
Water damages on your property as a result of carelessness by the owner of a neighboring property permits you to take said neighbor to court in order to demand compensation for damages incurred and to request the court to stop the neighbor’s deed. The most common type of activity for this kind of water damage involves sprinklers that are left running for quite a long period of time, water pipes that are clogged up, water lines that are old and leaking, has frozen or cracked.
Owners must be made responsible for the damage they cause especially if the pipe gets old and rusty, or becomes frozen during the cold winter months. Tree roots can also damage pipes; hence owners of trees must be made responsible for the damage created by their trees or tree branches. Regular maintenance should be done in terms of pruning the tree branches.
Thus, when a neighbor is found to be legally at fault for any water damage on your property, you are entitled to some or all of the following:
- Compensation for replacement and repair costs.
- Compensation for the cost of expenses when you have to stay at a motel because the damage done requires that you stay out of your house temporarily until repairs can be done and completed.
- Medical expense reimbursement should you have suffered any health related problem due to the water damage on your property.
- Mental distress compensation if the damage resulted to you suffering from an primary physical injury.
- Penalizing damages, if there was spiteful intent by the neighbor.
Insurances for Water Damage
Be sure to take the first important step of contacting your insurance company if water comes into your property from an adjoining source with regards insurances. If you can settle your differences with your neighbor and reach an amicable settlement it will be better for both of you. Make sure that any form of changes you wished to install will not damage the other property below if the water needs to be diverted down to a lower area. If for example you want to improve your surroundings through landscaping it is essential to hire a professional worker who will not only do the landscaping well but will give appropriate advice on what to do so the project which you intend to improve your property may not be the cause of damaged of someone else.
It is likewise important that you do an internet research regarding your state’s laws on water so you will know what to do if in case you find yourself in such situation aside from this. If however you have tried all means and ways to get your neighbor to meet you halfway and he or she is still not giving you the time of day, then you have no choice but to take legal steps in order to ensure that a concrete action and result will happen If your house and backyard is prone to flooding it is often best to find ways on how to reduce the accumulation of water. But if it so happens that your property is on a lower level, it is suggested that you find means and ways to safeguard your possessions from any unexpected flow and rise of water which may come above ground.
Or when the problem of rising water gives way to flooding that is partially the fault of your neighbor. Effort and money remember that taking the legal step is your right in every sense of the word, because court cases normally take time, but this step must be done as a last resort only. Or your neighbor’s insurance company may pay you directly along with the action of informing your neighbor to right the problem or have his/her insurance policy cancelled the insurance company will either pay you or demand reimbursement from whoever caused the problem.