claims question

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claims question

Postby trotter » Tue Feb 14, 2012 1:44 pm

Here is my scenario. I own my house and live in my house and I rent to a person who lives in the same house.

I leave a candle lit at night and a fire is created due to the candle. My question is am I responsible for the renters personal belongings and am I responsible for any injury that may have occurred to the renter due to the fire?

Thanks

Trotter
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Re: claims question

Postby Big Dog » Wed Feb 15, 2012 6:55 am

Do you have a formal rent agreement with this person? If so, and it's properly worded requiring the tenant to be responsible for their own personal property no matter what, then you're not responsible.

If you don't, then you could be held legally liable for their loss.
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Re: claims question

Postby HarrisburgAgent » Wed Feb 15, 2012 1:50 pm

That is more a question of liability than one of coverage. If the tenant alleges that you were negligent in failing to prevent the fire, your policy should kick in and provide liability coverage to defend/settle the loss. Often times customers will discuss claim scenarios and I remind them I can advise on coverage issues, but liability and negligence are determined by a judge/jury.
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Re: claims question

Postby yoyowordup » Thu Feb 16, 2012 11:51 am

I would think if you light a candle that causes a fire that you would most likely be liable for the damages that are caused. You have the responsibility of making sure this doesn't happen. Don't leave the candle next to the drapes or papers on a desk etc. Also need to make sure you kept an eye on it.

Were you thinking you might not be liable? If so, why?

Whether or not payment is due and payable for the damages may change depending on any contractural relationship. Do you have a hold harmless agreement in your tenant contract? Any other form of risk transfer built into the contract? The laws in each state also vary with respect to whether or not a hold harmless agreement is enforceable under certain circumstances.

Hopefully this is hypothetical and you did't start a fire.
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Re: claims question

Postby HarrisburgAgent » Fri Feb 17, 2012 11:52 am

There are cases of candles being defective...

http://www.consumerwatch.com/household/candles.php

A defective one could explode and cause a loss, its more likely that there was some negligence on behalf of whomever lit the candle, but its certainly not a strict liability matter in my opinion. There still needs to be a "duty breached" and proximate cause to be responsible for the damages.
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Court decision re: liable

Postby darnovak » Thu Feb 23, 2012 9:47 am

Even though an insured's policy may exclude coverage under property or liability, the claimant can go to court (even small claims court) and if the court deems the insured 'liable' for the damages, the carrier (at least in my experience in NY) must pay - up to the policy limits of course. That's what the famous Love Canal case law was about. The policy(ies) excluded pollution but the court decided otherwise (re-defined the coverages and exclusions)and the carrier had to pay big time. I would consider a 'malfunctioning' candle as a possible product liability suit against the manufacturer, distributor, and seller. Good attornies go for every pocket out there.....
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Re: claims question

Postby robmejia » Fri Mar 09, 2012 4:56 pm

I was wondering if a decision regarding your query has already been made and if you were held liable? If I was the tenant and knowing you were responsible for the fire, holding you liable for the damages, etc is just right.
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