City Not Responsible for Damage Caused by Pipe Bursts
By Kirsten McIntyre, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- With these bone chilling temperatures, your pipes can easily burst, creating a huge expense. Two Oklahoma City families learned the hard way who was responsible for damages.
In this case, it was a city pipe that burst, flooding an Oklahoma City home. The homeowner thought the city would be held responsible, but instead he learned about a state law he can't believe is on the books.
Richard McCarthy describes the damage to his home as unbelievable. It happened October 1 when a city pipe burst in his front yard.
"The water pressure was so high it blew the shingles off and blew the decking off. And then once it did that we were open to thousands of gallons of water. It just came pouring in here," said Richard McCarthy.
The carpet was ruined and ceilings caved in. In all, the damage was almost $50,000. McCarthy thought the city would pay, but then he discovered a state law.
"It says they will not pay if you don't tell them that the line is going to break. How am I going to know the line is going to break? Unless you're psychic you have no clue," McCarthy said.
"We're familiar with the law and we don't always like it either," said Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett.
McCarthy and the couple who were renting the home took their fight to city hall on Tuesday.
"One of our cars, TVs, we don't have much to wear right now because of all the damage that was done to our home because of the water," said John Holmes.
City leaders say the law prevents them from paying any damages, but are looking into whether the city was negligent in any way.
"What everybody needs to know if these sorts of things happen to them, you're just out of luck," McCarthy said.
Richard McCarthy said he plans to work to change the law. So far, insurance has only covered about half the damage.
When it comes to insurance, homeowners need to make sure they have the right coverage in case a pipe bursts, like a city pipe or a pipe inside your home. Most homeowner's policies don't cover that until you ask for it.
"One of the best questions to ask is what's excluded under my policy, rather than what's covered," said Kim Holland, the Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner.
Holland said homeowners need to ask for a sewer backup policy, which will cover them if a pipe breaks.