Many HOA residents enjoy the extra security of an automatic gate at their community’s entrance, and while most cars pass through without incident, it is not uncommon for gate and car to collide or make contact in some manner. When an HOA gate closes on a car and causes damage or injury, who is responsible? This is a question that insurance professionals are asked on a regular basis. The answer? Well, there isn’t one – at least not a definitive one.
While most HOAs carry liability insurance to cover themselves in the event of a claim such as damage to a resident’s car from the community gate, whether they are held responsible for the expenses or not will depend upon the circumstances of the incident. Many assume that because the accident occurred on the HOA’s property, they are automatically liable, but that may not be the case.
Law of Negligence
Property owners are required to maintain a safe place for homeowners and visitors, and if it can be proven that they have breached that duty, they are liable. For example, if a gate closes on a car due to faulty mechanics, lack of visibility or lighting, or because it was not properly maintained, chances are a court will rule in favor of the resident. HOAs should take care to properly maintain a safe and functioning gate, as a plaintiff only succeeds in a negligence claim if they can show that the damage was caused by unsafe conditions.
Was the driver paying attention when the gate was closing? Did they tailgate another car through the gate without waiting for it to close and open again? Perhaps they ignored signs or warnings that the gate was out of service. Circumstantial evidence may fully place liability on the driver if it can be proven that their actions alone were responsible for damage or injury.
If both the HOA and the driver are responsible, a court will likely need to be involved to determine how much liability is assigned to each party, and what will need to happen if liability limits differ.
Avoid Costly Mistakes
For HOAs with gates, it isn’t a matter of if an accident occurs; it’s when. In addition to proper installation and maintenance of community gates, it is crucial for associations to have the proper liability insurance in place to avoid expensive and unnecessary legal fees.
For more information, contact Blue Lime Insurance Group today to speak with a qualified agent, dedicated to helping you find the best policy options for your HOA to ensure that you’re covered in any situation.