Fires, flooding, collapses, collisions and a wide range of other incidents caused by negligent actions can wreak havoc on property, significantly reducing its value or usability. When homeowners’ insurance doesn’t cover the costs of repairs, property owners may need to seek payments through legal action.

Property damage lawsuits are often settled out of court, but if litigation is required, it’s important to be represented by an attorney who knows the local landscape and has experience in West Virginia courts. When multiple parties are involved in an incident that causes damage, the court determines what percentage of fault each party bears in causing the damage. Each party is then legally responsible for the percentage of damages equivalent to their percentage of fault.

In one October 2018 West Virginia property damage case, a Charleston resident filed a lawsuit against the West Virginia-American Water Company, alleging breach of duty and gross negligence and seeking compensation and punitive damages. The plaintiff claimed that because the water utility failed to properly repair its broken water main, sediment leaked into her home’s tap water and seriously damaged her fixtures and appliances. The homeowner is seeking tens of thousands of dollars of compensation in repair costs, lost income and other expenses.

Water companies are not the only entities that may be held liable for property damage caused by their actions. In West Virginia, courts may see property damage cases brought against:

  • Industrial operations — Chemicals from mining, timbering and power companies may pollute land and water and lessen property values. The release of these substances can greatly affect the health and safety of the community.
  • Utility companies — When a gas line, water main or electric pole breaks or is left to deteriorate, significant problems may result, from flooding to fires and explosions.
  • Product manufacturers —Product manufacturers who negligently hide the risks of their products can be held liable for the damage they cause.
  • Construction companies — Cutting corners in terms of materials used or adherence to building codes and other regulations can create hazardous property conditions; poorly operated machinery can ruin land and structural elements.
  • Motorists — The force of a car on impact may total another vehicle and can destroy land or other property.
  • Neighbors —If a neighbor fails to care for their own home or land, the problems they cause can extend beyond property lines. In some cases, disputes between neighbors result in purposeful property damage.
  • Trespassers — People who enter onto a property unlawfully and proceed to damage or destroy it can be held responsible for the costs a property owner incurs.
  • Municipalities — Infrastructure problems may be to blame for property damage. Notably, if your car needs repairs due to pothole damage, you can file for reimbursement from the West Virginia Court of Claims.

If your property has been harmed by a negligent person or business, call Calwell Luce diTrapano PLLC in Charleston at 800-876-5529 or contact us online. We are skilled in handling even the most complex cases, from property contamination to flash flooding caused by industrial operations.