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Apartment Fire, No Insurance

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SMC772

Junior Member
What is the name of your state (Virginia)?

Apartment fire with no renter insurance.

I co-signed for the apartment for sister-in-law and niece.

City fire investigator final report stated "fire started in the stove area, but source of fire is undetermined"

Apartment complex installed a new electric stove two weeks earlier.

Niece told fire fighter that she placed a plastic trash bag on top of the stove before leaving for work so the dog would not get it.

Stove was determined off, but fire investigator said a family member could have used it, turned it off, and shortly after the trash was placed on it.

Insurance company for the apartment complex just had a law firm send a letter addressed to my sister-in-law and niece. It stated they were deemed at fault for the fire by the insurance company's fire investigator. $180,000 bill.

I was not mentioned in the letter, but am listed on the lease. Letter was not certified, and stated that if she was not the right person to go after, who is?

Asked for my sister-in-law to call the law firms investigator.

Should I get a Lawyer?
 


ecmst12

Senior Member
You haven't been named in the suit yet, but you might be (in fact this is very likely). At that time, you will want to get a lawyer. For now, you and your sister in law were monumentally stupid and are pretty much completely screwed. If no defect was found in the stove, then they will definitely be found totally at fault for the fire. There is just no excuse for not having renter's insurance, it can cost as little as $10/month! And the lawsuit from the building is only the beginning, if any neighbors had belongings that were damaged from the fire (smoke or water damage), their lawsuits will be coming. Sorry if this sounds harsh but you might as well hear it now - this is going to be on your head for a long, long time because you failed to protect yourself.
 

SMC772

Junior Member
Thank you for being direct, I appreciate it.

Do I have any hope at all?

I talked to the inspector myself. He said it could have been the stove or my niece, it was an accident, but cause was UNDETERMINED.

She had renters insurance when I co-signed and stopped paying it without me or the apartment complex knowing. It was a requirement to have it.
She is poor, so there is nothing for her to lose. My wife and I are upper middle class.

thanks.
 

katelly

Junior Member
I wouldnt be so sure bout that

Im sure Im gonna get fired on for this one. Sounds to me like insurance co cant pin blame on you. If fire was determined, undetermined I would think liability falls on insurance co. But who put stove in if it was you and stove was bad go after stove company. If landlord put it in I would assume it would fall under his homeowners insurance. Either case I wouldnt give up so easy. Insurance co has to prove you at fault not just assume. I would definately get a lawyer involved now. I would think he can put pressure on insurance company. The insurance company has to prove you at fault. They cant just say undetermined and put it on you. Good luck and dont give in THEY HAVE TO PROVE YOU AT FAULT. So contact a lawyer explain situation I would think this could be cleared up. Remember it sounds like nobody is at fault from your post that puts liability on homeowner. I will say this though they will not cover her lost contents. Fire insurance only covers dwelling on rentals not contents. But everybody elses stuff would be covered. good luck. Ok guys fire away
 

ecmst12

Senior Member
There is going to be a lawsuit and OP is going to have to pay for a lawyer, since there is no insurance company to provide one. Who wins will depend on the evidence but even if they win, legal fees are going to be expensive and there is no case to countersue (since LL apparently has no liability here). Even if the fire marshal says undetermined, a judge can still say it was her fault.
 

mommyof4

Senior Member
Im sure Im gonna get fired on for this one. Sounds to me like insurance co cant pin blame on you. If fire was determined, undetermined I would think liability falls on insurance co. But who put stove in if it was you and stove was bad go after stove company. If landlord put it in I would assume it would fall under his homeowners insurance. Either case I wouldnt give up so easy. Insurance co has to prove you at fault not just assume. I would definately get a lawyer involved now. I would think he can put pressure on insurance company. The insurance company has to prove you at fault. They cant just say undetermined and put it on you. Good luck and dont give in THEY HAVE TO PROVE YOU AT FAULT. So contact a lawyer explain situation I would think this could be cleared up. Remember it sounds like nobody is at fault from your post that puts liability on homeowner. I will say this though they will not cover her lost contents. Fire insurance only covers dwelling on rentals not contents. But everybody elses stuff would be covered. good luck. Ok guys fire away
Read and comprehend the question first.

Translate your reply into some sort of sensible, intelligible form.

Refrain from posting any reply that is incorrect or does not answer the question asked.

No, the OP did not install the stove.

There is no renter's insurance, so the tenants can and probably will be held responsible for damages. The OP co-signed the lease, therefore leaving the OP in the position of liability for damages.

It has been admitted that one of the tenants place a plastic bag on top of the stove. Common sense would tell you that you do not place any item on the stove when the stove is not in use and the item is not specifically designed for use on the stove.

The issue at hand is lack of RENTER'S insurance.

The only bit of advice you gave that is worth repeating was to tell the OP to contact an atty.
 

JustAPal00

Senior Member
Read and comprehend the question first.

Translate your reply into some sort of sensible, intelligible form.

Refrain from posting any reply that is incorrect or does not answer the question asked.

No, the OP did not install the stove.

There is no renter's insurance, so the tenants can and probably will be held responsible for damages. The OP co-signed the lease, therefore leaving the OP in the position of liability for damages.

It has been admitted that one of the tenants place a plastic bag on top of the stove. Common sense would tell you that you do not place any item on the stove when the stove is not in use and the item is not specifically designed for use on the stove.

The issue at hand is lack of RENTER'S insurance.

The only bit of advice you gave that is worth repeating was to tell the OP to contact an atty.
Sorry, but I totally disagree with you! The cause of the fire has not been determined. The plastic bag was not determined to have caused the fire. Don't refer to your common sense as the law! The case boils down to the property owner vs the tenant. The property owner has insurance to represent them the tenant does not. The property owner has submitted a bill to the tenant for the damages. The tenant can demand that the LL prove they were responsible for the fire The LL will then have to take the tenant to court where a judge will decide! The tenant and all other named plaintiffs will have to provide their own defense!
 

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