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ScottyMacEsq
ScottyMacEsq, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 11317
Experience:  Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
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Hello, a few days ago there was a fire in the apartment I am

Resolved Question:

Hello, a few days ago there was a fire in the apartment I am renting as a tenant, I am not sure if I caused the fire or not with a cigarette by the window. I am in good terms with the landlord and he told me to not worry, and that the insurance company will take charge of the damage. The fire wasn't very big, fortunately I called the fire brigade very quickly, but when they got there, in order to put the fire down they created lots of damages including the down floor (it got flooded).
I am here in the US for one year studying but actually I am from Spain where I have a very small and inexpensive inherited apartment, apart from that I never had big incomes.
The questions are:
-What are the procedures that the insurance company usually carries on?
-Is my apartment in Spain in danger?
-in case yes, can I do something to keep it safe?
-The house itself is in very bad shape (old wood all over), in case I would get any liability, would it be shared with the landlord?
-How will decide if is a negligence by me, the fire brigade or the insurance company?
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 8 months ago.

ScottyMacEsq :

Thank you for using JustAnswer. I am researching your issue and will respond shortly.

ScottyMacEsq :

-What are the procedures that the insurance company usually carries on? - The insurance company will typically have an "adjuster" come out and look at the damage. They will typically see what caused the damage (most likely cause) as well as the costs to repair, etc... They may see if you were the one that caused it, if you have insurance, etc...

ScottyMacEsq :

-Is my apartment in Spain in danger? Most likely not. Even if the insurance company finds you at fault, they would have to sue you, get a judgment against you, and then try to enforce that judgment internationally..

ScottyMacEsq :

International judgment collection is very difficult to do successfully...

Customer:

Just one thing about the first question...

ScottyMacEsq :

...and only if the judgment justifies it AND you have the assets to pay off such a judgment would they pursue it..

Customer:

After they evaluate the damages, what makes them decide if they sue the tenant or not?

ScottyMacEsq :

The house itself is in very bad shape (old wood all over), in case I would get any liability, would it be shared with the landlord? - That really depends upon the terms of the insurance policy, and if they do determine negligence on your part, they have what's known as "subrogation" rights, in that they can opt to go after you for repayment.

ScottyMacEsq :

Let me finish the original questions first please...

Customer:

ok

ScottyMacEsq :

-How will decide if is a negligence by me, the fire brigade or the insurance company? - Both can make this determination, but typically it's the insurance company that would make this determination and try to get you to pay, and if it doesn't, it's really the courts that would make this determination IF the insurance company thinks that it would be economically viable to take you to court.

ScottyMacEsq :

Now like I said before, it might determine that it's not worth it to sue you if you don't have many (if any) assets in the states.

ScottyMacEsq :

Again, international collection of judgments is VERY expensive, and the costs in a smaller case (<$10,000 or so) would likely exceed what could ever be recovered.

ScottyMacEsq :

Now per your follow up question: After they evaluate the damages, what makes them decide if they sue the tenant or not? - The amount that they pay out per the policy is what they consider, as well as their likelihood of recovery should they sue. That is, if they have to pay out $50,000 to the landlord, that's their "damages" as a result of the negligence. They would have to pay an attorney at least $5,000 to bring such a case, and they would look at your assets in the states as well as any income in the states (to garnish). If you're only here a year, and all of your assets are outside of the states, assuming that this is not going to be a 6 figure plus award, they probably wouldn't sue, because the costs would exceed the likely recovery (again, they take into account how difficult and expensive it would be to recover that judgment from you).

ScottyMacEsq :

Hope that clears things up a bit. If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate this answer either a 3, 4, or 5 (good or better). Please note that I do not get any credit for this answer unless and until you rate it that way. Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX good luck to you!

Customer:

Can I ask you another question?

ScottyMacEsq :

If it's in the same scope as the original, yes.

ScottyMacEsq :

Please consider how "above and beyond" I go in answering your questions when rating and deciding upon granting bonuses, if any...

Customer:

yes, it is, a couple of days ago the fire brigade called me asking me if I ever saw a cigarette by the window, I told them not and I told them that I have no idea how the fire started, can that have any legal consequences? and in general terms, with whoever I speak to regarding, should that be my answer? Like, I have no idea how this started?

Customer:

sure

ScottyMacEsq :

You can certainly say that. You're not saying for certain that you never smoke (which you know would be a lie) but if you say that you "don't know" how it started or "don't recall" a cigarette by the window, they can't hold your memory against you... that is, they can't say that this is a "lie" because they don't know what you remember and when you remember it.

ScottyMacEsq :

So I'd be surprised if you had any legal issues resulting from saying that you don't recall or don't remember...

Customer:

good

ScottyMacEsq :

Hope that clears things up a bit. If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate this answer either a 3, 4, or 5 (good or better). Please note that I do not get any credit for this answer unless and until you rate it that way. Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX good luck to you!

Customer:

So would you recomend me to do any move at all?

ScottyMacEsq :

At this point, not really. It all depends on what the insurance company wants to do, but comply with the investigation, etc... and understand that for them to sue it would be likely more expensive than it would be worth.

Customer:

of course, You are being so helpful

Customer:

Ok, Thank you very much

ScottyMacEsq :

You're welcome, and again, good luck to you!

Customer:

I'll click on excelent, tell me, starting a new question can I caontact you again?

ScottyMacEsq :

Yes, if I am still in the office. You can request me by sending it "To ScottyMacEsq"

Customer:

thank you again

ScottyMacEsq :

You're welcome, and again, good luck to you!

ScottyMacEsq, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 11317
Experience: Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
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