Liability for Private Property Damages during Maintenance Activities
Has anyone had any incidents where damage to private property was caused by employees weed-whipping/performing maintenance? The Municipal League informs us that the City has tort immunity and does not have to pay for damages, however the City Council can decide to pay if it wishes. Any precedent out there?
Paragould: Paragould Parks has run into this situation several times in my 37yrs. What we do is to try and get the person to turn the damage say on their vehicle into their insurance and we usually pay their deducible even knowing that this is not necessary.
Hope: We have, on occasion, paid for windshield repairs/replacement when our employees have been mowing and a rock has been thrown and busted a vehicle’s windshield. We haven’t had any in a long time, however, as most of our staff have been around long enough to know to avoid mowing/weed eating an area where cars are parked. For instance, they will get the swimming pool area in the morning before it opens to the public. We do not, however, pay for damages from fly balls when cars are parked at the ball fields. That’s up to the homeowner’s insurance of the batter’s parents; though we did pay for a home window that was busted from a fly ball, as the woman who lived there couldn’t move her house J. It’s really taken on a case-by-case basis and up to the parks, recreation and tourism director, Paul Henley. He codes the repairs to his budget and it does not go through city hall.
Nashville: We have always covered the cost of damage that we were at fault for causing.
Little Rock: The city of Little Rock has several complaints a year about car windows being broken by mowers or weed eaters throwing debris. Out typical answer to this is sorry we have Tort immunity you need to contract your insurance company. Nobody like that answer and they usually want to know who else they can talk to. We send them to the City Attorney’s office.
Fayetteville: In the past, we (City of Fayetteville Parks Dept.) have damaged car windows and house windows with mowers throwing rocks and in one case, a weed eater. Our City has a claims procedure where the claimant can fill out a claim against the City. We then look at the information and determine whether or not we caused the accident and should pay for the repairs. If so, we require the claimant to obtain 3 quotes. If we determine that it wasn't our fault, we deny the claim. Whether we are required by law to pay for damages we caused, I can't say, but we feel like it is the right thing to do when we are at fault.
Jonesboro: We paid in the past for windows and such. The current mayor has said we will no longer pay for damages.
Rogers: We usually pay for verified repair claims to private property that has been damaged by city workers. If our mowers or other maintenance functions cause damage, we pay for it. If errant balls from practice or games cause damage, no. Perfect example - two weeks ago one of our mowers picked up a piece of metal and thru it into the side of a moving vehicle which knocked a small hole in the side of the vehicle. We had the driver to get us two estimates for repairs and we will pay to have the repair made. This was a vehicle used in earning a living by the driver so we will pay to rent a suitable replacement while the repairs are being made - maximum of three days. Total for all of this is less than our deductible and will be paid from our regular operating budget for vehicle maintenance. This is also a good faith jester on our part.
Hot Springs: Hot Springs P&R has, on occasion, replaced a car window or two from rocks being thrown while mowing public right of way medians. While we did not have to replace the windows according to tort immunity protection, it was an inexpensive gesture and the right thing to do. Fortunately, we now hire private contractors to mow these highly trafficked areas so we’re not faced with these situations anymore.
Clarksville: If we are aware that we have caused damage we pay for it with mayor's approval.