Liability claims arising from storm and wind damage

With regards to the recent storm conditions in Gauteng along with the usual strong winds along our coast line: Can a body corporate be held liable when a window or any other fixtures break loose and cause damage to third party property, or injury to third party people?

The main perils here are storm, wind and tornadoes –  these are all covered as standard perils under the body corporate policy.  Damage to the body corporate property is therefore, not an issue and should be covered by the policy.

Body corporate responsibility

The question arises as to whether the body corporate can be held responsible for the window – or any other fixture – causing damage to third party property or injury to third part persons.

Consider this example:  a window dislodges from the building during a storm. It is caused by the storm therefore, third-party incidents (such as damage or injury following the dislodgement) are directly attributed to the storm; it is not the body corporate’s fault. Third parties involved can lodge claims under their own insurance as storm damage claims.

The only time when a third party may have a claim against the body corporate is where they can prove that the window – or any other fixture – was dislodged as a result of an underlying cause (such as a lack of maintenance over the years) and that the storm only triggered that cause. Another underlying cause may be defectively installed awnings or shade nets, or guttering that came loose due to lack of maintenance.

In view of the above, it is indeed very important that body corporate property is maintained properly and kept in a good state of repair.

 

Author: Rian Pienaar

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