LAWLINK – Skip company damaged our driveway, who should pay?

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Q: We are doing some home renovation works, and my wife and I are doing the majority of the work ourselves. We had to hire a skip, and it was agreed between the skip company and ourselves that the skip would be placed in our driveway. Our house is at the end of a cul du sac and the turning circle can be quite tight. Unfortunately, when the skip was being delivered, it caused damage to the wall between us and our neighbours, doing substantial damage to the tarmacadam in our driveway. The skip company is saying it’s a matter for our insurance, but our insurance are saying that we should sue the skip company. What can we do?

Dear Reader,

It is clear that the skip company did not exercise the proper care and attention in delivering the skip to your home. The fact that delivery of the skip was not straightforward does not absolve the company of liability. If they felt that they could not deliver in such a way as to avoid property damage, then the appropriate course of action would have been not to deliver the skip at all.

The first thing that you should do is discuss the matter with your own insurers. They should be invited to assess the damage to the property. It is possible that the insurance company will deal with the claim on your behalf. You should ensure that this will not raise your premium unduly. If they are not willing to deal with the matter, then you, or your solicitor, should write to the skip hire company and formally notify them of the damage.

If you do not yet have a quote for the repairs, both to your wall and the driveway, you should get one immediately from the appropriate parties, perhaps in consultation with your insurers and your neighbour. You should then immediately furnish a copy of these quotes to the skip hire company and to your insurers.

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You should not necessarily rush to repair the damage without allowing the insurers or skip company an opportunity to property assess the damage.

You should ensure that any correspondence is recorded in a proper manner, preferably via email or letter, and that you pass the same on to your insurers and solicitors in due course.

Naturally, you should remain in contact with your neighbour as regards the damage to the shared wall – they will also want the issue dealt with in a prompt and timely manner.