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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 41220
Experience:  Multiple jurisdictions, specialize in business/contract disputes, estate creation and administration.
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For the first time, I was exiting the storage facility where

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For the first time, I was exiting the storage facility where my 40 feet motor home was stored. The gate suddenly closed causing significant damage to my motor home. The facility’s insurance company refused to accept legal liability because they say there was no proof of negligence. My insurance company concluded I was not at fault. There could only have been two reasons why the gate closed prematurely: 1) the gate system malfunctioned, 2), the pre-set timer used to close the gate remained opened for only 10 – 15 seconds, insufficient time to allow vehicles the size of my motor home to exit safely. As a result of testing, the facility manager claims the gate operated properly and as a defense, alleged I drove my motor home into the gate. Photographs taken at the scene of the incident clearly show I did not drive into the gate. As I was passing through the gate, the gate began closing, completely out of my view, and with no alert system in place to let me know it was closing. As designed, gates at many facilities will open based on a signal from the ground weight sensor as you approach the gate and a pre-set timer to allow the gate to close. I plan to resolve this matter in small claims court. My case is based on the fact that even if the gate did not malfunction there were no procedures in place to advise tenants they need to exercise extreme caution when passing through the gate or the facility did not ensure the gate timing was sufficient to allow large vehicles to pass through. When signing the initial contract approximately 2 months earlier, the facility manager did not address the gate operation except to issue a key pad code to open the gate and responded to my question that the gate will remain open until vehicles have pass through. I intend to introduce witnesses that will testify to the fact that the facility manager does not advise tenants of the need to take extra precaution when exiting and entering the facility with a large vehicle. There was no warning or alert system in place to let customers know the gate was about to close. There are warning systems in all gates in storage facilities that I subsequently visited in the area. They use horns, light beams, buzzers or other sound devices, etc, that are designed into the gate system for that purpose. Do I have sufficient grounds to make the case that the facility was negligent by not having, policies and procedures, and a warning system in place that would have aided in the prevention of my loss?

Thank you for your question. Please permit me to assist you with your concerns.

Going purely by your facts, you may have 3 separate grounds for suit (which I welcome you to further research or ask me for additional clarification).

1. You are pursuing a traditional negligence claim on basis that the party had a duty to inform of how the gate worked, they failed in that duty, and due to that failure you suffered injury. It is not a bad claim and your facts do support it. I cannot tell you if the judge will agree that they are negligent but I do agree that this is enough for a 'prima facie' claim (meaning you have enough to file suit and make a good case for it).

2. You also have a potential case under a lesser known claim for 'res ipsa loquitur' which in Latin means that 'the thing speaks for itself'. It is essentially a claim that as you did not contribute in any way to the injury but were operating the vehicle correctly, damage took place from the defendant. You do not know what broke or why, but you are pointing to the damage and your lack of liability as a claim that he is responsible.

3. There is also a lesser claim here for potential products liability. It may be that the issue is with the gate, and therefore it may be something where you could claim or show that the gate malfunctioned and pursue the manufacturer for the defect and damages.

Good luck.

Dimitry K., Esq. and 2 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

To continue this saga, I purchased my motor home (MH) in June 2010 and obtained MH insurance coverage with Progressive Insurance Company. A year later I filed a claim with Progressive for severe damage to the roof that was attributed to my negligence when I backed into a garage door with a low ceiling. The roof had to be replaced at a cost of $10,420 minus my deductible. As you can imagine my premium was raised by $122. When this second incident occurred, I had less than 3 years of insurance coverage with Progressive. Because it was the second incident during the first 3 years, my premium rate was increased by $595, whether or not I was considered to be at fault – it didn’t matter. The premium rate will not be reduced until the 3 year “incident forgiveness” period has expired and before I can be reinstated in good standing with Progressive at the same premium rate that I had after the first incident. I have now discontinued my coverage with Progressive as I can no longer afford the increase in premiums. To my detriment, I have had to obtain insurance coverage with an inferior insurance company with a questionable reputation. There’s no doubt in my mind that should there be an incident or accident occurring with this company, my welfare and financial interest will not be protected and the outcome could be a economic travesty. My question is, do I have grounds to sue the owner of the storage facility for the $21,420 increase in premiums that I would have to pay over the next 3 years to be reinstated and returned to my normal status with Progressive Insurance, or is there some other type of compensation that I should be pursuing?

Thank you for your follow-up, Herman.

To answer directly, you can potentially sue for any and all 'direct' and foreseeable losses stemming from this accident. In other words if you can show that you were exposed to additional costs that 'but for' the accident you did not see, then it is a very real damage that likewise ends up being the responsibility of the party who damaged you. Therefore the increase in premiums, as it stems from the accident, is a very real loss for which you can demand recourse. These are called 'foreseeable damages'

Good luck.

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