The church steeple fell on my vehicle during a storm while i was in church. It totaled my van. Who is at fault?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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The church steeple fell on my vehicle during a storm while i was in church. It totaled my van. Who is at fault?

Both insurances are saying the other
one needs to pay. The church paid for a
rental for a week, towed my van to my
house, and told me good luck.

Asked on March 6, 2017 under Accident Law, South Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

The church is only at fault IF they were aware of a structural damage to or issues with the steeple (or logically must have been aware: i.e. anyone in their position would reasonably have seen signs of such damage or issues) creating a greater-than-normal risk that it would fall and, despite knowing of such risk, they failed to do anything. In that case, their failure to act in the face of a known risk would likely be negligent, or unreasonably careless, and that could make them liable, or responsible to pay for the damage.
But if there was no reason to fear that the steeple might fall and it was just blown over by a storm without prior warning, they are not liable: a property owner or renter is not liable just because damage occured on their property or from their property. Rather, there must be fault; without fault, they are not liable and they (and their insurer) would not have to pay anything. In this case, unless you have the relevant insurance (e.g. collision or comprehensive) on your car, there would be no one to pay for the damage but you.

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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