Landslide Damage

Landslide damage is a threat to hillside and hill-bottom homeowners nationwide. In the past few years, landslides in California have caused an average of $100 million worth of structural damage. Litigation is often the only recourse available to victims of real property loss due to landslide damage. The Law Firm of Catalano & Catalano represent people against their insurance companies, municipalities and other entities to remedy damage suffered to their real estate from a landslide. If you feel that damage to your real estate from a landslide is due to the negligence of another Рyour builder, seller, realtor, neighbor, county, city or state Рor if your insurance company is unwilling to aid in your landslide recovery, the Law Firm of Catalano & Catalano may be able to help.

A common misperception of landslides is that they are caused by “Acts of God.” In fact, much real estate landslide damage in California occurs on unstable hillside areas that could have been made stable through proper treatment. Some examples of environmental instability include poor soil conditions, inadequate grading and ineffective drainage systems. Failure to maintain a proper slope could be the responsibility of the builder, neighborhood association, local government or a number of other entities. Construction defects such as improper landscaping or drainage, improper construction materials, poor workmanship, inadequate retaining walls, or defective plumbing, electrical or environmental controls on your real property or the real property of your neighbors can also be a factor in landslide damage. Both environmental instability and construction defects are often times preventable and should be considered in a landslide damage settlement.

Who’s Responsibility Is It?

Home Seller – The seller of a home in California is required by law to disclose to a buyer all defects of the land and property of which they are selling. Therefore, if there have been previous landslides or earth movement, the seller has a duty to inform the buyer. If the buyer is not informed of landslide or other potentially harmful conditions, the seller may be monetarily liable for real property damage (including post-purchase improvements).

Real Estate Agent/Broker – Both the buyer and seller real estate broker are required to inspect real property and disclose all defects before selling. Negligent behavior by a real estate broker includes failure to point out possible indicators of earth movement and failure to recommend a geologic report for hillside properties. Your real estate broker may be a liable party in your landslide lawsuit.

Geologist: Municipal or Private – A geologist responsible for evaluating the stability of the land is required to report adverse ground conditions. In the event of earth movement or landslide, accuracy of a hillside property stability report will be compared to the industry standard of other competent geologists. If the geologist did not perform an adequate site evaluation or disclose bad soil conditions, the law may hold them accountable for your landslide damages.

Engineer/Architect/Builder: Municipal or Private – In addition to ground conditions, planning and construction factor into your risk for landslide damage. Architectural or construction defects may exacerbate the damage from a landslide. If it is proven that a landslide damaged home had poor workmanship from a planning or construction standpoint, the engineer, architect and/or builder may also be included in your landslide lawsuit and settlement. This includes municipalities that didn’t properly plan/maintain adequate sewer or drainage lines for the area.