Neighbor’s Contractor Damaged Adjoining Property

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Leesbro63
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Neighbor’s Contractor Damaged Adjoining Property

Post by Leesbro63 » Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:57 pm

A very good friend recently had concrete damaged on his property by a contractor’s heavy truck. Who does he go after? My guess is that the contractor will ignore it and have other legal roadblocks. But is the neighbor, himself, perhaps responsible, as the contractor was working as his agent? (I’m just guessing on the “agent thing” as I am not a lawyer).

What’s the real world best path to take, assuming that the neighbor nor contractor will voluntarily pay for the damage?

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Pajamas
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Re: Neighbor’s Contractor Damaged Adjoining Property

Post by Pajamas » Mon Jul 09, 2018 3:01 pm

Leesbro63 wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:57 pm
What’s the real world best path to take, assuming that the neighbor nor contractor will voluntarily pay for the damage?
Probably small claims court.

Rupert
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Re: Neighbor’s Contractor Damaged Adjoining Property

Post by Rupert » Mon Jul 09, 2018 3:04 pm

I wouldn't assume that the contractor would ignore it or that the neighbor will refuse to pay. Likely both have liability insurance. The contractor might volunteer to come fix the concrete to avoid a claim on his insurance.

jalbert
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Re: Neighbor’s Contractor Damaged Adjoining Property

Post by jalbert » Mon Jul 09, 2018 3:06 pm

Start by discussing it in a polite way with the neighbor. Legal liability determination only comes into play if the responsible parties are not agreeable with a solution.
Risk is not a guarantor of return.

Silk McCue
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Re: Neighbor’s Contractor Damaged Adjoining Property

Post by Silk McCue » Mon Jul 09, 2018 3:14 pm

I would suggest they speak with the neighbor to make certain they are aware of the damage. They should inform them that they will be pursuing this with the contractor first in order to get the problem resolved, and ask them to lend their active support. They can let them know if they can't get satisfaction from the contractor then they will look to the neighbor to resolve but would prefer it no come to that. The neighbor will be much more motivated to get the contractor to take full responsibility.

Cheers

NotWhoYouThink
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Re: Neighbor’s Contractor Damaged Adjoining Property

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Mon Jul 09, 2018 3:33 pm

Neighbor's contractors have damaged our property. It took a couple of phone calls to resolve. Try not to assume the worst of people.

Clemblack
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Re: Neighbor’s Contractor Damaged Adjoining Property

Post by Clemblack » Mon Jul 09, 2018 3:42 pm

For any party to be obligated to pay, that party must have been negligent in some way. From the information given, it seems unlikely that the homeowner who hired the contractor was negligent (unless he gave express permission for the contractor to use the driveway that was damaged). There's probably some negligence on the part of the contractor. I'd recommend calling the owner of the company and explaining the situation to that person.

z91
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Re: Neighbor’s Contractor Damaged Adjoining Property

Post by z91 » Mon Jul 09, 2018 3:43 pm

Silk McCue wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 3:14 pm
I would suggest they speak with the neighbor to make certain they are aware of the damage. They should inform them that they will be pursuing this with the contractor first in order to get the problem resolved, and ask them to lend their active support. They can let them know if they can't get satisfaction from the contractor then they will look to the neighbor to resolve but would prefer it no come to that. The neighbor will be much more motivated to get the contractor to take full responsibility.

Cheers
Pretty much this. Assuming they are good neighbors this is the route to take. Make sure to take pictures and note down information in case it gets to it.

I should mention that the contractor would end up being responsible for this, not the homeowner; unless they were the one driving the truck :D

Clemblack
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Re: Neighbor’s Contractor Damaged Adjoining Property

Post by Clemblack » Mon Jul 09, 2018 3:45 pm

Silk McCue wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 3:14 pm
I would suggest they speak with the neighbor to make certain they are aware of the damage. They should inform them that they will be pursuing this with the contractor first in order to get the problem resolved, and ask them to lend their active support. They can let them know if they can't get satisfaction from the contractor then they will look to the neighbor to resolve but would prefer it no come to that. The neighbor will be much more motivated to get the contractor to take full responsibility.

Cheers
Respectfully, I disagree with this. If the neighbor who hired the contractor was not negligent, there's no grounds on which to "look to" that neighbor to resolve. A person who isn't negligent owes nothing.

If my contractor backs a bulldozer through my neighbor's house, that's on the contractor.

barnaclebob
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Re: Neighbor’s Contractor Damaged Adjoining Property

Post by barnaclebob » Mon Jul 09, 2018 3:51 pm

If my contractor damaged a neighbors property they wouldn't be fully paid until it was fixed. I'd rather have a contractor pissed at me than my neighbor. Maybe your friends neighbor will have that attitude.

From the other perspective, the amount of damage also needs to be taken into account. Did the truck just crack a corner of a sidewalk or driveway? If my neighbors contractor put another crack in my already cracked driveway I'd say he could leave a 6 pack by my door and we'll call it good. If my driveway were pristine and now had a crack I'm not sure how I would feel though.

Rupert
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Re: Neighbor’s Contractor Damaged Adjoining Property

Post by Rupert » Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:01 pm

Have any of you advising OP that his friend's neighbor is not responsible actually taken an agency law class? You all should Google that along with "joint and several liability."
Last edited by Rupert on Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Sandtrap
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Re: Neighbor’s Contractor Damaged Adjoining Property

Post by Sandtrap » Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:01 pm

Call both the neighbor and the contractor.
Be nice.
Be sure to take pics and record dates and such of the damage, also pics of the contractor's trucks, or crews.
As a contractor, I have dinged things with trucks, backhoes, equipment, etc. Always more than happy to make it right.

If it's fixable, the contractor might just fix it.
But, I also had a case where I backed into a fence that was half fallen apart and termite rotten and covered in vines, and the neighbor made a big deal out of it. I had my guys prop up the fence and set a few fence posts. It was better than it was before we pushed it a bit over. Everyone was happy. The damage has to be reasonable, too.

From a former General Contractor's perspective only. Lic. HI, AZ.
j :D
Last edited by Sandtrap on Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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dm200
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Re: Neighbor’s Contractor Damaged Adjoining Property

Post by dm200 » Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:05 pm

I would contact my own homeowners insurance company to see what might or not be covered - both by my own and the neighbor's policies.

Perhaps contacting BOTH the neighbor and the contractor could be fruitful. Maybe the contractor's insurance company?

RickBoglehead
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Re: Neighbor’s Contractor Damaged Adjoining Property

Post by RickBoglehead » Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:30 pm

Rupert wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:01 pm
Have any of you advising OP that his friend's neighbor is not responsible actually taken an agency law class? You all should Google that along with "joint and several liability."
This ^^^

If you hire a contractor to work on your property, and your contractor damages someone else's property during that work, you do have liability. That's why you make sure that any contractor you hire is licensed, has liability insurance, and workmen's comp insurance EACH TIME YOU HIRE THEM.

AZAttorney11
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Re: Neighbor’s Contractor Damaged Adjoining Property

Post by AZAttorney11 » Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:43 pm

I don't know why this forum permits legal advice. And I don't know why non-lawyers are so quick to chime in with their thoughts / suggestions.

aqan
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Re: Neighbor’s Contractor Damaged Adjoining Property

Post by aqan » Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:49 pm

Does the contractor or neighbor know about it? They should have been made aware of the damage as soon as your friend found out about it. I’d discuss it with whoever I can find first.
Personally I’d deal with the neighbors, they’re the ones who hired the contractor hence they should be involved in any discussion.

aqan
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Re: Neighbor’s Contractor Damaged Adjoining Property

Post by aqan » Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:51 pm

AZAttorney11 wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:43 pm
I don't know why this forum permits legal advice. And I don't know why non-lawyers are so quick to chime in with their thoughts / suggestions.
Because it is not a legal matter yet and OP is asking for best way to deal with a situation not a legal advice.

Leesbro63
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Re: Neighbor’s Contractor Damaged Adjoining Property

Post by Leesbro63 » Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:13 pm

I’m the OP. Thank you for the replies. I have a better understanding of the situation now and will show this thread to my buddy. If it can’t be worked out amicably, he’ll better know his options. No need to continue with discussion of giving legal advice vs not giving legal advice. I just wanted to get a better general idea of what the groupthink was on this and I now have it. Thank you all.

RickBoglehead
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Re: Neighbor’s Contractor Damaged Adjoining Property

Post by RickBoglehead » Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:27 am

RickBoglehead wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:30 pm
Rupert wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:01 pm
Have any of you advising OP that his friend's neighbor is not responsible actually taken an agency law class? You all should Google that along with "joint and several liability."
This ^^^

If you hire a contractor to work on your property, and your contractor damages someone else's property during that work, you do have liability. That's why you make sure that any contractor you hire is licensed, has liability insurance, and workmen's comp insurance EACH TIME YOU HIRE THEM.
Neighbor 2 doors over just had a tree cut down, went with the cash only bid that could come same day. Guy wore no protective gear at all, and instead of lopping off top, or tying tree to pull it in the desired, they pushed it with little tractor. Tree went wrong way, hit neighbor's tree breaking off several branches. Neighbor is clearly liable. Can't glue branches back on tree.

Ping Pong
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Re: Neighbor’s Contractor Damaged Adjoining Property

Post by Ping Pong » Wed Jul 11, 2018 11:43 am

The person should contact the contractor who built the driveway. If it can’t handle a truck driving on it, it wasn’t built properly.

Rupert
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Re: Neighbor’s Contractor Damaged Adjoining Property

Post by Rupert » Wed Jul 11, 2018 11:49 am

Ping Pong wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 11:43 am
The person should contact the contractor who built the driveway. If it can’t handle a truck driving on it, it wasn’t built properly.
Well, now, that would depend on the truck, wouldn't it? And on any guarantees made by the concrete contractor when the driveway was poured. I happen to be having a new concrete driveway poured next week. The contractor and I spent a little while talking about what sorts of vehicles use my driveway. I told him the biggest truck likely to use my driveway is a power company bucket truck. He said my new driveway will handle that fine but wouldn't handle, say, a concrete truck or a brick delivery truck.

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bottlecap
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Re: Neighbor’s Contractor Damaged Adjoining Property

Post by bottlecap » Wed Jul 11, 2018 12:03 pm

Here’s my nonlegal advice. Make both the neighbor and the contractor aware. Tell neighbor you are trying to resolve through the contractor. Neighbor may even help. If contractor doesn’t make it right, then go to the neighbor for redress.

Your friend has no relationship to keep with the contractor, but presumably does with the neighbor. In light of this, I would look to neighbor only if I had to.

JT

PVW
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Re: Neighbor’s Contractor Damaged Adjoining Property

Post by PVW » Wed Jul 11, 2018 12:28 pm

AZAttorney11 wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:43 pm
And I don't know why non-lawyers are so quick to chime in with their thoughts / suggestions.
Because most "legal" matters are done by laymen. I think it is pretty clear that most people are offering their laymen's opinion of the best course of action.

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Pajamas
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Re: Neighbor’s Contractor Damaged Adjoining Property

Post by Pajamas » Wed Jul 11, 2018 12:35 pm

AZAttorney11 wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:43 pm
And I don't know why non-lawyers are so quick to chime in with their thoughts / suggestions.
Because lawyers so rarely do, even the ones who identify themselves as lawyers online. If they chimed in with their thoughts and suggestions, others probably still would do so but wouldn't feel it to be so necessary.

Law isn't just for lawyers, it is for everyone. Some small claims courts don't even allow lawyers to represent clients in court.

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bottlecap
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Re: Neighbor’s Contractor Damaged Adjoining Property

Post by bottlecap » Wed Jul 11, 2018 1:46 pm

Pajamas wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 12:35 pm
AZAttorney11 wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:43 pm
And I don't know why non-lawyers are so quick to chime in with their thoughts / suggestions.
Law isn't just for lawyers, it is for everyone. Some small claims courts don't even allow lawyers to represent clients in court.
There is a difference between “the law”, which is for everyone, and giving legal opinions, which is most assuredly not for “everyone.”

It’s much like electricity. It is there for everyone’s benefit, but few have any business doing electrical work.

If you want to give legal advice, just say “It depends” and you’ll be right 95% of the time. If you say, “absolutely,” you will be wrong 95% of the time. Most people tend to think of the law in absolutes.

Is homeowner liable? It depends.

JT

Rupert
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Re: Neighbor’s Contractor Damaged Adjoining Property

Post by Rupert » Wed Jul 11, 2018 2:09 pm

bottlecap wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 1:46 pm
Pajamas wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 12:35 pm
AZAttorney11 wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:43 pm
And I don't know why non-lawyers are so quick to chime in with their thoughts / suggestions.
Law isn't just for lawyers, it is for everyone. Some small claims courts don't even allow lawyers to represent clients in court.
There is a difference between “the law”, which is for everyone, and giving legal opinions, which is most assuredly not for “everyone.”

It’s much like electricity. It is there for everyone’s benefit, but few have any business doing electrical work.

If you want to give legal advice, just say “It depends” and you’ll be right 95% of the time. If you say, “absolutely,” you will be wrong 95% of the time. Most people tend to think of the law in absolutes.

Is homeowner liable? It depends.

JT
Well said. It often does depend. Not 95% of the time, but often. Lawyers often refrain from responding to threads where the OP is clearly seeking legal advice because giving such advice arguably creates an attorney/client relationship, which, at least theoretically, could cause all sorts of problems for the lawyer. When lawyers speak, they will often not identify themselves as lawyers or will do so only to correct some general mis-statement of law that has occurred in the thread.

AZAttorney11
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Re: Neighbor’s Contractor Damaged Adjoining Property

Post by AZAttorney11 » Wed Jul 11, 2018 2:20 pm

^Not to mention we don't even know where the OP's neighbor lives.

mouses
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Re: Neighbor’s Contractor Damaged Adjoining Property

Post by mouses » Wed Jul 11, 2018 2:32 pm

A few years ago the people who once or twice a year mow a vacant lot I own drove several feet into the neighbor's lawn and created ruts. The neighbor came to see me. I said, So sorry! Tell me how to get in contact with your lawn guys and I will have them fix this at my expense. I left several messages for her lawn guys and never heard back. So I emailed her and explained what was happening, and said, have your guys fix it (my theory being they would talk to her since she pays their bills) and let me know what it cost, and I will mail you a check. I never heard any more about it.

I suppose I could have asked my guys to fix it, but they are basically tree guys and take forever to do stuff. Plus her guys would be motivated to please their customer. If my guys had driven into her house or something, I would have been more controlling about the work and costs, but these were just ruts.

NotWhoYouThink
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Re: Neighbor’s Contractor Damaged Adjoining Property

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Wed Jul 11, 2018 2:41 pm

So OP, how did the conversation with the neighbor and contractor go?

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Pajamas
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Re: Neighbor’s Contractor Damaged Adjoining Property

Post by Pajamas » Wed Jul 11, 2018 3:36 pm

bottlecap wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 1:46 pm

There is a difference between “the law”, which is for everyone, and giving legal opinions, which is most assuredly not for “everyone.”

It’s much like electricity. It is there for everyone’s benefit, but few have any business doing electrical work.

If you want to give legal advice, just say “It depends” and you’ll be right 95% of the time. If you say, “absolutely,” you will be wrong 95% of the time. Most people tend to think of the law in absolutes.

Is homeowner liable? It depends.

JT
That would be true for most things, not just law and electricity.

Clemblack
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Re: Neighbor’s Contractor Damaged Adjoining Property

Post by Clemblack » Wed Jul 11, 2018 4:12 pm

RickBoglehead wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:30 pm
Rupert wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:01 pm
Have any of you advising OP that his friend's neighbor is not responsible actually taken an agency law class? You all should Google that along with "joint and several liability."
This ^^^

If you hire a contractor to work on your property, and your contractor damages someone else's property during that work, you do have liability. That's why you make sure that any contractor you hire is licensed, has liability insurance, and workmen's comp insurance EACH TIME YOU HIRE THEM.

A homeowner is not automatically liable for his contractor's negligence.

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