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Gregory Boop
Gregory Boop, Lawyer (JD)
Category: Legal
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Experience:  A trial attorney with a decade of experience representing people and small businesses.
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As I was exiting a private, gated community in the evening ...

Resolved Question:

As I was exiting a private, gated community in the evening my car slid on a long patch of sheet ice and impacted the gate and latching post before it could open. I estimate the damage at around $2,000 (based on previous experience). Do I have any legal recourse? On the other hand, am I liable for any damages to the gate and structure?
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Gregory Boop replied 9 years ago.

You are liable for the damage to the gate and structure. Call your insurer, make the claim and leave it to the insurer to negotiate with the community.

Drivers are strictly liable to control their vehicle. Hitting a stationary object is a loss of control and you are strictly liable. You need to pay for trees, telephone poles, bushes, livestock or anything you hit with your car. There are exceptions. The exceptions are rare, very rare.

Owners have no duty to remove "natural accumulations" of ice and snow. Owners may have a duty to remove "unnatural" ice and snow - say a leaking gutter on a sidewalk. But, the law is that "natural" ice and snow is everyone's problem not just the owner. You can also look at it from a reasonableness standard: everyone knows sheet ice is possible in December, in Colorado, so there is no higher duty on the part of the owner.

So, it may be that the ice was unnatural and there is an exception excusing the loss of control... but, unlikely. Let your insurer argue with the community's insurer.
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