Can You Sue Someone for a Sinkhole on Your Property?

Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Matt Arnold answers the question: “What can you sue for in a personal injury case?”


Since a sinkhole is a natural occurrence, many people tend to think that there is nothing they can do if they sustain injuries or their property is damaged in a sinkhole incident. However, depending on the facts surrounding your particular incident, you may be able to sue the local government or other entities.

sink-hole-Charlotte-Monroe-Mooresville-Personal-Injury-Lawyer-300x200This is something that a Charlotte family should definitely consider after a massive sinkhole that formed in their backyard caused more than $20,000 in property damage. According to WRAL, the sinkhole began to form about a week before Christmas when a homeowner noticed a small hole in her backyard.

By Christmas, the sinkhole had enlarged significantly and was deep enough that a small child could fall inside. Charlotte’s Storm Water Services Department had reportedly told the homeowner that they would fix everything, but eventually changed their minds.

The City of Charlotte reportedly told the homeowner that they could not manage the repair because it was “too much work.” Local authorities have yet to confirm or comment on this statement.


Who can be Sued for a Sinkhole Incident?

Although more often than not, a sinkhole incident does not fall on someone’s shoulders, there are cases when specific parties can be held liable for the formation of a sinkhole in your backyard or other parts of your property in North Carolina.

  • Premises Liability. If you were on someone else’s property when a sinkhole incident occurred, you might be able to sue the owner of that property under the theory of premises liability. Property owners have a duty to maintain their premises in a safe condition and maintain a hazard-free environment. Note: to have a valid personal injury claim against the property owner, the owner must know or have reason to know of the sinkhole on their property (e.g., a shaky foundation, prior property inspection reports warning of the possibility of a sinkhole, history of sinkholes in the area, etc.).
  • Real Estate Fraud. Unfortunately, some real estate agents may not fully research a property or have the background knowledge to identify potential warning signs of an issue in North Carolina. Some may also be more interested in making a quick sale, even if it means “forgetting” to highlight any potential environmental concerns regarding the property. If a real estate agent sells a property but fails to inform of the heightened risk of a sinkhole, they may be committing real estate fraud. If that is the case, that real estate agent may be liable for the damages caused by the sinkhole because they failed to warn of risks.
  • Man-made sinkholes. In some cases, sinkholes are manmade. A sinkhole can form when a public or private entity (e.g., a construction company or the government) performs extensive underground work or drilling in the area, which disrupts the entire foundation of the surrounding properties.

Here at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, our Charlotte personal injury attorneys can help determine liable parties in your sinkhole incident. Contact our lawyers to determine whether someone else can be sued for the sinkhole that led to your losses and damages, and help establish the elements of your personal injury claim. Call 704-370-2828 to explore your legal options or fill out our contact form. Now taking cases throughout North Carolina with offices in Uptown Charlotte, Mooresville and our new location in Monroe.







The skilled personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are dedicated to maximizing the financial recovery and obtaining justice for every personal injury client injured by another party’s negligence. The issues our personal injury clients may be facing include, but are not limited to, slip and fall injuries, wrongful death, product liability, catastrophic injuries, dog bite claims, car and truck accident injuries, motorcycle injuries, traumatic brain injury (TBI), nursing home negligence, spinal cord injury, boating accidents, and defective medical device injury. Our personal injury attorneys understand the devastating impact such an injury can have on a person’s life, and that the effects so often go beyond physical pain and suffering. The personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are dedicated to helping clients determine the strength of their claims, and to aggressively pursuing the means necessary to achieve the best possible end result for each client’s particular situation.





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