Water damage can be the cause of some bitter neighbor disputes in California. Though a lot of water damage is due to natural weather forces and land conditions that cannot be controlled, a property owner can still be found liable for water damage on their neighbor's property in some instances.
Most of the time, a neighbor cannot be found to be at fault for water damage caused by runoff from rain. If a person lives on lower ground than their neighbor, they usually cannot sue their neighbor because water flows down from their neighbor's property onto theirs. However, a neighbor that alters their property in a way that causes excess water to run onto other properties near them could be sued for the resulting water damage.
When a court hears a case involving a neighbor dispute over water damage, it will be interested to learn why an alteration was made on a property and how important the alteration was. If an alteration was required to maintain the structure of a home, the alteration may be considered more important than a neighbor's garden, even if the alteration resulted in damage to the garden from extra water runoff.
Some water damage can be caused by a neighbor's carelessness. For example, a person may cause water to run onto their neighbor's property by failing to fix a leaky water hose or a broken sprinkler. A person who is involved in a neighbor dispute over water damage caused by an alteration or carelessness may want to have representation from an attorney.