Is the insurance of a car that catches fire responsible for damages to other cars?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Is the insurance of a car that catches fire responsible for damages to other cars?


A neighbor’s Prius caught fire a week ago and their insurance is not wanting to
accept the claim and pay for the damages caused to the surrounding cars in the
parking lot… Are they not liable to also pay for damages?

Thank you

Asked on November 21, 2017 under Accident Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

His liability insurer would be responsible to pay (subject to the policy limits) IF he (the insured) was at fault in some way, such as by leaving a lit cigarette on the upholstry in the car, which caused the fire. The issue is, liability (an obligation to pay for another's damages or losses) is based on fault, so he (and therefore his insurer) would have to pay ONLY if was at fault. If he was not at fault, he is not liable; and if he is not liable, neither he nor his insurer has to pay. You'd have to look to your own insurance (assuming you have the appropriate or relevant insurance) for compensation.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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