Man seriously injured by flying roof tile


Jan 2023

Liability for building damage

It is a common occurrence that a storm causes a number of roof tiles to fall down, landing on a pedestrian. As recently a man was seriously injured by a roof tile flying around. With no direct culprit to blame, the question arises as to who should compensate for the damage?

Owner defective building

The owner of a building - as listed in land registry - is in principle liable for a building if it is defective. Defectiveness of a building means that it does not meet the requirements that may be imposed on it under the circumstances.

It does not matter whether the defect already occurred during construction due to a design or construction error or due to overdue maintenance; the building owner is always liable in the event of a defect.

Private versus public building

In assessing defectiveness the purpose of a building is important. If a building is accessible to the public, such as the fishmonger's, a library and a school building, higher requirements are imposed on it. The building is then considered defective sooner than if it is exclusively for private use.

‍Storm: a sudden defect

Nevertheless, the owner is not automatically liable for damages caused by sudden defects occur only shortly before an accident. If roof tiles become loose due to a heavy storm and blow onto a pedestrian, the owner is not liable. However, the owner must then prove that he is not to blame and immediately take measures to prevent damage from occurring. In practice, this is difficult to prove.

Business use exception

For buildings used for the conduct of a business, there is an exception. When rented for business purposes, liability rests with the person conducting the business in the rented building. The conduct of the business must be related to the damage.

For example, a school board that leases a building must keep an eye on the condition of the building and take action on overdue maintenance. If a student suffers damage from a loose roof tile, for example, the injured party can apply directly to the school for compensation.

Prevention and transfer

As a building owner, it is important to comply with building codes and safety regulations to prevent damage. In dangerous situations, liability can still be avoided in certain cases if, for example, warning signs are used.

Nevertheless, property liability cannot always be avoided. Fortunately, this risk can be easily covered through liability insurance. Our advisors are happy to help you find the best insurance solutions for your situation.

Wondering what Base Insurance can do for you? Book a free 30-minute second opinion.

Make an appointment
Read more

Discover all articles

LinkedIn BrickBaseLinkedIn BrickBaseemail BrickBase