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Utility Company Property Damage

Discussion in 'Other Legal Issues' started by Ratty1888, Aug 11, 2021.

  1. Ratty1888

    Ratty1888 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I accidently hit a gas line while digging at my home in Saint Paul. Prior to digging I called 811 and got all the permits that were required. I was also digging by hand in the area which is what was instructed of me. The incident occurred over two years ago but now the utility company has sent a bill for $1,700. I feel like this amount is ridiculous since the section of pipe replacement was only 4 inches long and it took one guy maybe 2 hours to complete the job. The utility company is claiming it took 20 man hours to complete and that it was overtime pay. I reached out to the utility company and offered $400 but they won't reduce the price. I reached out to the public utilities commission but they can't help since damage to property is not covered by the agency's tariff with the company. Now the company is saying they are going to send my bill to collections. So a few questions:
    1. Can they send the bill to collections if it is something I never agreed to pay?
    2. Wouldn't they have to sue me for the damages first and win that case in small claims court?
      1. If sued, would I be required to go to small claims court in MN (I have since moved)?
      2. Also if sued, would I be required to pay any additional fees such as the utility companies attorney fees if I lost in court?
    3. My insurance company is aware that I am working to reduce the payment (deductible is $1,000) but since the beginning of this I have sold the home. Will my homeowners insurance policy still cover the loss?
    Any advice you can offer is greatly appreciated!
  2. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    You wouldn't be required to go, but that's where the case would likely be filed.

    If you lose, the filing and service fee and other court costs would likely be included in the judgment. Attorneys' fees likely would not.

    I've never heard of a homeowner's policy having a deductible for a liability claim. Call your insurer and ask.
  3. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Agree with Z.

    This is a liability claim based on your negligent damage to the utility company's property.

    The damage occurred while the policy on that home was in force. Yes, the insurance company should pay the entire bill without a deductible.
  4. Red Kayak

    Red Kayak Well-Known Member

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    Did they have to evacuate the area? Was it on a weekend? If so, that can account for some of the cost.

    (One of my neighbors did the same thing a few years back. I came home from church to find half the neighborhood evacuated.)

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