Am I Liable for My Contractor’s Damage?

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My Miami, Florida contractor accidentally poked a hole in a water pipe while placing baseboard, causing extreme water damage to the unit below me and some common areas in condominium, like hallways and walls. Who is responsible for the damage to the other property? My unit was also damaged.

When you say “who is responsible,” the answer depends on the question “responsible to whom?” As a practical matter, when you sue – if your neighbor were required to sue for this, which hopefully won’t happen – you name everyone who has a possibility of paying off. So both you and your contractor would be named. If you’re asking who is responsible to you, well, you can’t sue yourself, so you’re stuck just going after the contractor.

However, this is precisely the sort of thing that a contractor’s liability insurance should cover: damage to construction other than what the contractor is building.

Now, if your contractor doesn’t have insurance, then WHY ON EARTH DID YOU HIRE A CONTRACTOR WITHOUT INSURANCE? Accidents happen, and that’s what insurance is for. Your homeowner’s/condo owner’s policy might kick in for something like this, but it also might not.

In either case, what people often forget is that the purpose of liability insurance is to cover a situation where you would be personally liable. So if you don’t have the applicable insurance. . . then you (or your contractor) are personally liable.