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Upstairs condo unit pipe bursted, water damages the lower leve

San Jose, CA |

I own a lower level condo unit where my inlaws live in it. The upstair unit's pipe burst and water damaged the ceiling, carpet and furniture. My inlaws and I don't have any home owner insurance, but the upstair unit has their own home owner insurance. Their insurance carrier told me that if they determine the burst isn't the policy holder's fault (or the HOA is the party at fault), the insurance won't cover our damage, and even if I sue the upstair unit owner, the insurance company is going to tell the court the same and i will lose the suit. Is it true? My inlaws are staying in the hotel, how can we get the hotel stay cost reimbursed?

Thanks so much for Frank's quick advice. The pipe burst was in the kitchen of the upstair unit rather than the common area. Upstair's insurance company push the issue to the HOA with the suspicion of cuase of pipe burst being the high pressure to the host. The HOA insurnace company is saying the HOA's policy does not cover the hotel stay but the repairing portion if they determine it's the HOA's responsiblity for the pipe burst, and I will be responsible for the deductible of $5000 (or $2500 if splitting with the upstair owner). Shouldn't the single fact that the burst water came from the upstairs make the upstairs owner liable for all my loss, and it's his/her obligation to find the party who is at fault to reimburse him/her? Appreciate any feedbacks..

Attorney Answers 2


The hotel costs are part of your claim.

The HOA will be liable if the evidence shows that the cause of the water damage was due to common area pipes.

The upstairs owner will be liable if the evidence shows that the water damage was due to plumbing within the upstairs unit.

If the insurance carrier for the upstairs unit does not pay you, then you will have to sue the owner of the upstairs unit and/or the HOA for your damages (property damage plus hotel costs). You don't sue the insurance carrier. It will be your burden to prove which party is liable.

The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author (who is only admitted to practice law in the State of California). For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.

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Jody Lynn Peskin

Jody Lynn Peskin


It is unfortunate that they are yanking you around in the hopes that you'll cover some of their responsibility rather than hire an attorney and fight. After all, that's what insurance companies do! I'd suggest you speak to an attorny regarding your rights and the attorney will know how to investigate the damage done and the causes and can handle the negotiaitons from a position of strength on your behalf. Sad to say, but once you have an attorney send a demand letter, there's a good chance the insurers will start to take you and your damages seriously.


you need to make claims with the upstairs owners insurance company and the HOA's insurance company as well and let them fight out the cause. I have handled cases such as this before. Please give me a call for a free consultation at 415-441-1052.

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