If my neighbor’s house caught fire and damaged mine, how can I recover my deductible?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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If my neighbor’s house caught fire and damaged mine, how can I recover my deductible?

I have water and smoke damage to my basement townhouse. My neighbors left a pot of grease on the stove and it caught fire. The person that did it was a tenant of the person who owns the townhouse. The renter did not have renter’s insurance, so the landlord is saying that he won’t cover my damages under his policy. My insurance covered it but says they cannot go after the tenant since it was his fault. So am I out my deductible or is there a way for me to recover it?

Asked on May 23, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Maryland


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You can sue the tenant for your deductible, such as in small claims court, as your own attorney. To win, you'd have to prove in court by a "preponderance of the evidence" (more likely than not) that the tenant was "negligent," or unreasonably careless, in causing the fire. To do that, unless he has already admitted liability under oath or been found liable in another court proceeding, you would almost certainly need to subpoena a fire investigator, insurance adjustor, etc.--someone who looked into the cause of the fire and issued a finding, based on their experience and training, as to the cause. You would issue them a subpoena to appear for and testify at trial.

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