Can I sue a homeowner’s association?

Q: My basement flooded due to overflow of storm water runoff from common area hillside at my condominium. There was excessive rain that day in a very short amount of time. The local roads flooded, streams overflowed, roads were closed. Water gushed down the hillside and flooded my game room. This happened 4 times. All the time there was excessive rain. The upper side of the hillside has homes with downspouts running on to common area. Can I sue for damages to my yard and game room? I do not have flood insurance. Last issue was the 31st of October. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: I would consult with a civil litigation attorney that has handled such cases. These cases are difficult as you would have the burden to prove that either the association maintained a defective water runoff system and knew or should have known that they did. Or, if the homes on the hillside caused the runoff, whether the homebuilder is at fault because he knew or should have known that water running off his property would cause damage below. You would likely need an engineer to look at the system and write a report. Causation is the main issue. Were your damages caused by negligence or an act of nature. The fact that this has happened four times gives less credibility to an “act of nature” defense. Have you submitted this claim to your property insurance carrier? You should call them first before consulting with an attorney. Preserver your evidence. Save your photos and keep a log of all activity.

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