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Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
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Experience:  14 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 24+ years
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We hired a contractor for a major addition to a house. While

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We hired a contractor for a major addition to a house. While he had the roof opened, we asked him to tarp the roof because we heard a storm was coming. Later that night we had a bad storm with inches of rain. Water and demolition debris ended up in the basement where we had many of our possessions stored during the project. We checked out the basement 3 days later and everything was ruined. We were not living in the house since it was being rebuilt. I filed a claim with his insurance carrier and they are reducing the value of my entire claim by 50% citing my failure to mitigate the damages. My question is when I hire a contractor isn't he responsible? The house was a work site with no stairs to the basement and the only way out was with a ladder or through a muddy garage and trenches in front of that. How am I supposed to mitigate damages when there is nowhere for me to move these items? Why am I half to blame when he caused all the damage? Is this right?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.
Hello and thank you for using JA! My goal is to provide you with excellent service and help with your legal problem.
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My question is when I hire a contractor isn't he responsible?
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Yes, if the contractor was negligent in not properly securing the roof that he had opened up allowing the rain to come in, then he can be held liable for any damages that you incur due to his negligence. When a contractor is hired, he is held to the quality standards of "workmanlike construction". This means that he has to do the same things to prevent damages that any reasonable contractor would do in the same situation. If he fails to do so and you suffer damages due to his actions (or lack thereof) then he can be held liable.
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I don't see what state you are in, but most states require contractors to be licensed and insured to protect against exactly this type of thing. If he has insurance you can file a claim with his insurer for any damages that your insurance doesn't cover. If he is uninsured, not only is he likely breaking the law, but you can hold him personally liable for your damages.
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Thanks.

Barrister

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If you need further help, just reply to me via the “REPLY” button and I will be happy to continue.

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I cannot enter into an attorney client relationship, this is a public forum, and all posts are available for public viewing. There is no duty of confidentiality that attaches to any posts. The information provided is not a substitute for a local attorney’s legal advice.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The state is NY and the claim is being filed with his insurance company and not mine. His company states I failed to mitigate damages so they are reducing the settlement offer by 50% is it my duty to mitigate even if It is a work site and I am not living there? Or is he fully responsible regardless?
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.
I am not sure how you would be able to "mitigate your damages" if there was no access to the basement...Further you would have reasonably assumed that the contractor would have taken adequate precautions to ensure that there was no water infiltration since you notified him in advance of the storm.
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With that said, the insurance is trying to lowball you and you may end up having to get an attorney involved and either threaten or actually file suit against the contractor for negligence and breach of contract.
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You can also contact the NY Dept of Financial Services and Insurance and file a complaint for unfair claims practices and they will then initiate an investigation into the matter. Insurance companies hate it when consumers file complaints because it can result in the equivalent of an IRS audit for a taxpayer. If the Dept finds that they have engaged in unfair claims practices, they can take punitive action including fines up to actual revocation of the insurer's license.
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Thanks.

Barrister

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.

If you need further help, just reply to me via the “REPLY” button and I will be happy to continue.

.

I cannot enter into an attorney client relationship, this is a public forum, and all posts are available for public viewing. There is no duty of confidentiality that attaches to any posts. The information provided is not a substitute for a local attorney’s legal advice.

Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 24534
Experience: 14 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 24+ years
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