Real Estate Law
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Hello and thank you for the opportunity to assist you. My name is ***** ***** I will do my very best to answer your legal questions.
Can you please describe how the damage was caused? Also, do I understand you correctly that the neighbor has tentatively agreed to pay for the damage once you get 3 estimates?
Yes, I would contact your homeowners insurance company and file a claim. You may be required to pay the deductible by the insurer, but that is something that you can ultimately go after the neighbor to pay. Alternatively, you can go after your neighbor for the entire amount if you do not wish to file a claim with your insurer (but I would file the claim). As for who must get estimates, that is ultimately your obligation ... not because it's unfair for the neighbor to do so, since it certainly is fair for the neighbor to take that responsibility. The reason you should get the estimates is because (1) it's possible that the neighbor will voluntarily pay if you get a few estimates, and (2) if you are forced to sue your neighbor, then the burden of proof as to your monetary damages is on you. In other words, in court, you would have to prove the cost of the repairs to the judge.
If I were in your shoes, I would first contact my insurer since they may pay the majority of the cost to fix the driveway, and they will likely get their own estimate. I would then go after the neighbor in small claims court if necessary for the deductible. If it turns out that the damages aren't covered by your policy, then I would get the 3 estimates for the neighbor so that hopefully the neighbor will ultimately pay for the repairs voluntarily. Finally, I would sue the neighbor for the deductible or the entire cost (as necessary) if it's not entirely covered by your insurer or voluntarily paid for by the neighbor. Unfortunately, you cannot put a lien on the neighbor's property unless you first sue and win a money judgment. So, I would act quickly before the property is sold.
Does that answer your question? Please let me know if you need clarification, as I am happy to continue helping you until you are satisfied.
You are quite welcome. I wish there was a way to easily force the neighbor to do the right thing, but your assessment is correct. I truly wish you the best. God Bless to you as well.