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Damage Caused To My Car By Automatic Gates At My Apartment Building. Please Help!


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Automatic gates in my apartment building closed on my car last week as i was driving through them.

 

They have caused severe damage to my car and will cost £744 to repair. This is not my fault and i phoned the management company who run my apartment building immediately to let them know what happened.

 

They informed me that they would need to get gate engineers out to look at the gates to investigate and if there was found to be a fault then they would pay the repair costs.

 

I got a letter saying that the gate investigators could not find a problem with the sensors which should have stopped the gates from closing on my car so therefore they will not pay and also require me to pay the call-out charge for the gate engineers which is £300.00

 

I am 22 and a young male driver so claiming on my car insurance would really increase my premiums so it is out of the question. I have tried reasoning with the management company but they are unwilling to budge.

 

Please could i get some advice. I'd really appreciate it. You can email me at ross.henderson@itv.com

 

Many Thanks.

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Hi all!

 

rossadam3000,please answer the following questions:

 

1.Is there a cctv system available to monitor/record events around the building of flats?

 

2.Are you an owner occupier or a tenant of the flat you live in?

 

The answers to the above questions should hopefully enable me to assist you further.

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Hi,

 

Thanks for replying. There are no CCTV cameras located anywhere in the building and i do not own the apartment. It is privately rented through a letting agency.

 

Any suggestions?

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Ask for a copy of the engineers report and an itemised breakdown of the call out fee. Wouldn't surprise me at all if the letting agents were bluffing about calling an engineer out. Does your insurance include legal expenses cover? If yes you could consider getting the ins co to appoint a solicitor on your behalf.

Halifax plc

 

LBA sent 11/01/06

Rec'd fob off letter 21/01/06

Last ditch attempt phone call to avoid court action 07/04/06

Reply rec'd 07/04/06 'On this occasion we are unable to help you'

Claim filed 19/04/06

Claim acknowledged 28/04/06

 

SETTLED IN FULL 11/05/06

 

 

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I have had a verbal response from the letting agent saying that they cannot help because they only deal with the apartment itself and not the building and gates. I have asked that they put this in writing to me.

 

I have checked with my insurance to see if i have legal cover and yes i do, BUT they said that they could only help if the manufacturers report catergorically stated that the gates were fault. However, the engineers who looked at the gate have come back and said that they couldn't find a fault (they looked at the gates 4 days AFTER the incident) so now i appear to be stuck.

 

I have had an invoice from the management company who own the building for £352.00 to pay for the call-out fee. This was a £300.00 call-out fee plus VAT.

 

Is it now time to instruct a solicitor? The fee's will be more than the damage but just out of principle i still refuse to pay for damage caused to my car through no fault of my own.

 

Can anyone recommend any good solicitors? Preferably in the Manchester area?

 

PLEASE HELP!! All advice is much appreciated!

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I have had a verbal response from the letting agent saying that they cannot help because they only deal with the apartment itself and not the building and gates. I have asked that they put this in writing to me.

 

I have checked with my insurance to see if i have legal cover and yes i do, BUT they said that they could only help if the manufacturers report catergorically stated that the gates were fault. However, the engineers who looked at the gate have come back and said that they couldn't find a fault (they looked at the gates 4 days AFTER the incident) so now i appear to be stuck.

 

I have had an invoice from the management company who own the building for £352.00 to pay for the call-out fee. This was a £300.00 call-out fee plus VAT.

 

Is it now time to instruct a solicitor? The fee's will be more than the damage but just out of principle i still refuse to pay for damage caused to my car through no fault of my own.

 

Can anyone recommend any good solicitors? Preferably in the Manchester area?

 

PLEASE HELP!! All advice is much appreciated!

 

You will have difficulty on your own finding a solicitor to act because your loss is purely financial & below the threshold to claim legal costs which could & would probably exceed your damages claim. The reason they act for legal expense insurers in ULR is that they are also passed other claims such as personal injury which almost always attract legal costs

 

However your insurer is misleading you. Most defendants at 1st deny liabilty How can you find out if you have a case unless it's investigated. Your legal expenses cover is there so you can fight just such cases. Insist they act for you remind them that part of the premuim you paid was for legal expenses cover & they will be expected to support any action (subject to liabilty which your legal representative will investigate). They will inform you & your insurer whether or not you have a 51% or better chance of success.

 

PS No matter what they say The letting agent, The barrier manufacture, The installer, the landord all may have a liabilty for your damage.

 

However your cause of action would be against the landlord. You have no contract with the barrier company. Also your legal rep would need to find out if there is a maintenance schedule & whether or not the barrier was inspected by the landlord or it's agents at regular intervals. Also make sure you have photo's of the damage. Subject to how it operates if it struck your car after going part way through then they have a case to answer because it should be fitted with a "Magic Eye" (like a lift) which stops it lowering in the event a vehicle has not cleared it.

 

For further help suggest you post some photos of the damage & barrier here for further advice

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However your insurer is misleading you. Most defendants at 1st deny liabilty How can you find out if you have a case unless it's investigated. Your legal expenses cover is there so you can fight just such cases. Insist they act for you remind them that part of the premuim you paid was for legal expenses cover & they will be expected to support any action (subject to liabilty which your legal representative will investigate). They will inform you & your insurer whether or not you have a 51% or better chance of success.

Agree totally with this. They're trying to fob you off because it's not a completely straightforward case. Phone them back and if they still say the same thing demand to speak a supervisor or manager.

 

PS No matter what they say The letting agent, The barrier manufacture, The installer, the landord all may have a liabilty for your damage.

 

However your cause of action would be against the landlord. You have no contract with the barrier company. Also your legal rep would need to find out if there is a maintenance schedule & whether or not the barrier was inspected by the landlord or it's agents at regular intervals. Also make sure you have photo's of the damage. Subject to how it operates if it struck your car after going part way through then they have a case to answer because it should be fitted with a "Magic Eye" (like a lift) which stops it lowering in the event a vehicle has not cleared it.

IMO the action should be against the mananging agents, they have tacitly accepted responsibility for the gates by agreeing to send out an engineer to inspect them.

 

For further help suggest you post some photos of the damage & barrier here for further advice

Also please describe in detail what actually happened.

 

If the sensors are optical (i.e. Magic Eye), then even though they may not be faulty, they could have been obscured by dirt, leaves etc, in which case the managing agents (or whoever is responsible for the gates) would still be liable. They have a responsibilty to maintain the gates.

Halifax plc

 

LBA sent 11/01/06

Rec'd fob off letter 21/01/06

Last ditch attempt phone call to avoid court action 07/04/06

Reply rec'd 07/04/06 'On this occasion we are unable to help you'

Claim filed 19/04/06

Claim acknowledged 28/04/06

 

SETTLED IN FULL 11/05/06

 

 

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This is what happened in detail.

 

On 21 June i was leaving for work and as i approched the security gates i noticed that one gate was open but the other remained closed. (The gates had been faulty for a number of days).

 

I used my electronic fob to open the gate that had remained closed as there isn't enough room for a car to pass through with just one gate open.

 

I used my fob and waited for it to open fully before i started to drive through. As i got through the gates i noticed that they were closing and in my panic i stalled the car. When trying to re-start the car the gate that i had just opened closed onto my car scratching, dinting and causing over £700 of damage.

 

The management company who own the building orignally verbally admitted that they were liable and asked me to send them a repair quote from a garage which i did. Then they got some engineers from the gate manufacturers to come and inspect them. This was done 4 days after the incident.

 

I was then told that the engineers found a fault with the gate mechanism (hence the reason it was already broken) but on examination of the sensors they could not find a fault. Therefore the management company have said that it must have been my fault and so i have to pay the call-out charge and repair.

 

There are no trees or leaves in the way of the sensors so i'm really struggling but my argument is maybe there was a temporary fault or malfunction that then fixed itself. The evidence is plain to see that my car is severely damaged but they are bring really awkward.

 

The letting agency has said that although i pay my rent to them every month, they are not responsible for issues other than those affecting the property itself, therefore issues with the gates and car park are not their problem.

 

What can i do?!

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This is what happened in detail.

 

On 21 June i was leaving for work and as i approched the security gates i noticed that one gate was open but the other remained closed. (The gates had been faulty for a number of days).

 

I used my electronic fob to open the gate that had remained closed as there isn't enough room for a car to pass through with just one gate open.

 

I used my fob and waited for it to open fully before i started to drive through. As i got through the gates i noticed that they were closing and in my panic i stalled the car. When trying to re-start the car the gate that i had just opened closed onto my car scratching, dinting and causing over £700 of damage.

 

The management company who own the building orignally verbally admitted that they were liable and asked me to send them a repair quote from a garage which i did. Then they got some engineers from the gate manufacturers to come and inspect them. This was done 4 days after the incident.

 

I was then told that the engineers found a fault with the gate mechanism (hence the reason it was already broken) but on examination of the sensors they could not find a fault. Therefore the management company have said that it must have been my fault and so i have to pay the call-out charge and repair.

 

There are no trees or leaves in the way of the sensors so i'm really struggling but my argument is maybe there was a temporary fault or malfunction that then fixed itself. The evidence is plain to see that my car is severely damaged but they are bring really awkward.

 

The letting agency has said that although i pay my rent to them every month, they are not responsible for issues other than those affecting the property itself, therefore issues with the gates and car park are not their problem.

 

What can i do?!

 

You should send a LBA to both the landlord & agent stating that you intend to issue proceedings against both of them. The fact that the barrier came down on your car is I submit enough evidence to determine that the barrier was faulty. Automated car barriers SHOULD not decend on ANY vehicle going through & if they do they are unsafe.

 

See a solicitor who practices in public liabilty who should be aware of the "maintenace" argument. In other words any such device should be "maintained in a safe working order AT ALL TIMES" This case law determines that any device that fails will be deemed to have not been maintained at all times even if no fault can be found subsequent to that failure.

 

Whilst this was originaly determined in employers liabilty cases with respect to equipment used by an employee. The same argument has been used successfully a few years ago by a member of the public who was injured by a lift in Scotland Yard. Therefore your situation is not that different.

 

You may also wish to note that The Commissioner of Police attempted to blame the lift maintainence company without success as the court ruled they could not avoid their statutory duties by passing that duty onto another.

 

There is also another case involving the post office a postman & his post office bicycle. His pedal broke causing him to fall & sustain serious injury. The PO argued that even if inspected daily they would have noway of knowing that it would fail until it did. The court refused to accept that argument because of the burden it would place on the totally innocent individual claimant in that he/she would have no redress against the provider/supplier of said equipment which failed

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Thanks, i have already sent numerous letters to the management company. Here are copies of my letters and my responses... Let me know what i can do from here.

 

**************************************************************

Dear Tony/Alex,

Please find attached a copy of the written estimate for the total cost of repair to the above mentioned vehicle following damages caused by security gates at The Royal. The total estimated cost is £744.90

The damage occurred on Friday 23 June 2006 at approximately 0725. Full details of the incident were given over the telephone to Tony at 1020 who confirmed that engineers were coming to look at the gates early next week as there have been repeated problems with them over several weeks and the gates were already faulty before the incident occurred.

I am taking this incident very seriously as my car needs major repair work and it was a very traumatic experience. My major concern is for the health and safety of both myself and the other residents of The Royal and I can’t help but feel that there is a question of liability here that needs to be addressed. Please can you let me know the outcome of this situation by Friday 30 June 2006. I hope we can reach an outcome of which we are all agreed without having to involve third parties however should my request for a decision not be met by Friday 30 June 2006 I shall be forced to consider starting legal proceedings.

If you need to look my vehicle I have photographic images for you to look at and will be able to show you the damage myself on Tuesday 27 June 2006 between the hours of 1130 and 1230.

For your information I will be parking my car in the visitor’s car park with immediate effect.

Yours sincerely,

R HENDERSON

****************************************************************

 

I received this back...

 

****************************************************************

 

WITHOUT PREJUDICE

 

Dear Ross,

 

We refer to your recent complaint and can now advise you of our following findings -

 

  1. Our contract engineers for the electronic gates, have fully tested the opening mechanism and electronic controls and found that they are in working order.
  2. From enquiries we have made, your apartment has only onw gate control fob issued and this is in the possession of Caroline Sceats.
  3. Your vehichle was found on 26.6.2006 in a car park space owned by another apartment. You do not have authority to park in that space. Under the circumstances, your vehicle was parked on all previous occasions without authourity.
  4. As you were not in possession of a fob to the gate controls, you could not open the gates to exit or enter the car park.
  5. As a result of the collision by your vehichle, the second gate mechanism has been damaged for which we shall require payment from you or your insurers.

As we now understand, you were parked without authority within the car park of The Royal and as such, the Royal Salford Management Company Ltd does not accept any form of liability for the damage to your vehicle.

 

Regards

 

 

Tony Bell - Director.

 

*************************************************************

 

I immediately responded with this....

 

 

*************************************************************

 

Dear Tony,

I refer to your letter dated 29.6.2006 and would now like to address some of the points you have raised.

Firstly, I must make it clear how disgusted I was to receive such an ill-considered and frankly intimidating letter from you. I immediately telephoned you at 1210 to discuss the circumstantial nature of the points you raised and asked you to call me back as soon as you picked up the message. You made no attempt to contact me, hence the reason for this facsimile.

To address your first point, the gates were quite clearly faulty and had been for several days prior to the incident. You yourself admitted this during our telephone conversation following the incident at 1020 on 23 June 2006. I respectfully request to see a copy of the report made by the contract engineers for the gates with a detailed report of their findings. I would also like a copy of the gate specification to show to my solicitor if needs be.

The second point you made regarding the control fob is also incorrect. The fob is shared between Caroline Sceats and myself. Therefore, as we both own vehicles, we take it in turns to park in the secure underground car park and rotate the allocation of who is in possession of the fob. This agreement between Caroline and I has been confirmed to the Royal Salford Management Company by Caroline herself, in a telephone conversation with Alex on 29 June 2006 at 1407. On the date of the incident I was in possession of the fob, not Caroline. Prior to the incident my vehicle was parked in the parking space allocated to our apartment.

Your third point is entirely irrelevant to this investigation. I would like to remind you that the date the incident occurred was 23 June 2006, therefore where my car was parked on 26 June 2006 is wholly unrelated to the incident. Your assumption that my car had been “parked on all previous occasions without authority” is not only incorrect but also circumstantial and highlights the weakness of your argument.

I am in no way responsible for the incident, nor the upkeep of the gates. I pay a management charge which is included in my rent for the general maintenance of the building, and therefore, as the gates were already faulty, it is the responsibility of The Royal Salford Management Company Limited to pay for their repair costs. I also hold The Royal Salford Management Company Limited wholly and entirely responsible for causing the severe damage to my vehicle and hold the company liable for repair costs.

I would like to draw your attention to the fact that someone could have been seriously injured in the accident and it is a major breach of health and safety standards. As I said in my previous correspondence with you on 23 June 2006, my primary concern is for the health and safety of myself and other residents of The Royal and I am appalled and sickened at the total lack of support or help I have received from The Royal Salford Management Company as a result of the incident.

As I now understand, your main points addressed to me in the letter are entirely circumstantial, false and ill-considered. I am sickened that The Royal Salford Management Company Limited did not even have the decency to offer me a written apology for the damage caused to myself and my vehicle. There is very little mention of the actual problem and malfunction of the gates and that surely is critical to this investigation?

I am fully within my rights to request a full written copy of the contract engineers’ findings and would like to receive this, along with a full gate specification, by Wednesday 5 July 2006. I also respectfully request you to re-assess your findings and original judgement in terms of accepting your liability. In the unfortunate event that we get no further forward I shall be forced to hand this matter over to my solicitor, which is an avenue I hoped we wouldn’t need to explore.

I respectfully request that all future conversation between The Royal Salford Management Company and myself are via written correspondence only.

Yours sincerely,

ROSS HENDERSON

 

**************************************************************

 

I then received this...

 

*************************************************************

 

Dear Ross,

 

I am in receipt of your letter dated 29.6.2006.

 

I enclose a copy of our engineers report which clearly states that if the gate was open, it would not close while either pedestrians or vehicles were in movement through the archway.

 

As you will not from the report, and their assessment of the type of damage to the edge of the gate, they suspect that the gate was in the closed position and had not been opened by uou.

 

The gates were previously damaged by a tenant who forced it open as they were not in possession of a fob. The control mechanism (photocells), were not attached to the gate and were found to be in working order.

 

When the gates were in operation the opening speed is very slow, so much so that any vehicle could have reversed away from them with a degree of safety.

 

In general, the gates have operated as they should and apart from damage caused, have never caused any problem.

 

With regard to your comment of Caroline Sceats and yourself sharing the same space and fob is not acceptable. You are allowed one vehicle and one vehicle only.

 

The Royal Salford Management Company Ltd, does not accept responsibility for damage, theft of loss of any vehicle parked at The Royal. The reason for this is obvious and applies to all car parks (N.C.P etc)

 

The report from our gate company clearly indicates that if the gates were open, then they would not close whilst in the open position.

 

Your account of the incident does not 'add-up'. There is no argument that there is damage to your car, but that damage could not have been caused by a gate closing on you while you were driving through if you first opened them.

 

We do not accept liability. We suggest you contact your insureres and upon request we will forward our findings to them.

 

Regards,

 

Tony Bell- Director.

 

REPORT FOLLOWING CALL OUT TO AUTOMATED GATES.

 

Date: 28th June 2006

 

Call-out Date: 27th June 2006

 

Findings;

 

Upon inspection of the gates it was found that the opposite gate had been damaged.

 

The gates had allegedly closed whilst a vehicle was passing through causing some damage to the vehicle.

 

When we arrived on site it was found that both sets of safety photocells were fully operational. These are fitted as a safety precaution to prevent the gates from closing if a pedastrian/vehicle crosses the beams of the photocells.

 

I have attached a photograph which shows this.

 

As you can see thr gap between each set of photocells is not great enough for a vehicle to pass through without breaking at least one set.

 

The damage that was found exactly matches that found on the 1st call out; in that the bracket that attaches the hydraulic arm to the gate was found to be bent.

 

The only explanation for the damage to the second gate is that a car has possibly tried to pass through the gates whilst the first gate was not in operation and so in the closed position.

 

This was previously witnessed by yourself and our engineer, whilst on site.

 

A new bracket will need to be fitted to the second gate for this to be fully functioning;

as follows -

 

Costs incurred £300.00 + vat

(Includes original call out charge)

 

Continued....

**************************************************************

 

On the next page was a very blurry black and white image of the gates with the photocells circled for my attention.

 

There was no firther report from continued on the next page even though it said "continued" at the bottom.

 

The gates were inspected 4 days after the incident by a company called Georgian Gates who are based in Bury. These are not independent engineers and work for The Royal Salford Management Company.

 

I have not yet responded to this letter as i am now desperately trying to weigh up my options but yesterday i received an invoice from The Royal Salford Management Company Limited for the sum of £352.50.

 

I have not answered this either but do NOT intend to pay.

 

Where can i go from here?

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As nightmare4banks said, issue an LBA.

I was of the opinion that in a dispute, independent engineers were meant to be used.

Are they mechanics? What is their insistence that the damage cannot have been caused by the closing gates based upon?

And that thing about there being 'two' vehicles - that's just ridiculous. You can't park two vehicles in one parking space; unless you had to register the number plate of this Caroline's car when you first took up occupation then this is completely arbitrary.

 

Go get 'em.

-----

Click the scales if I've been useful! :)

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Definitely send an LBA to the managing agents giving them 14 days to pay up. Keep it short and to the point and do not enter into any further discussion about liability etc. Something along the lines of the following:

 

[your address]

 

 

 

[their address]

 

 

 

LETTER BEFORE ACTION

 

 

Dear Sir

 

RE: DAMAGE TO MOTOR VEHICLE CAUSED BY AUTOMATIC GATES AT

 

I still have not received payment from yourselves in respect of the above.

 

I attach a copy invoice for your attention.

 

If I do not receive the full amount within the next 14 days I shall take action in the County Court to recover this sum plus interest and court fees.

 

No further notice will be given before I commence court action.

Yours faithfully,

 

 

 

rossadam3000

 

 

Also check out Bankfodder's advice here:

 

http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/bank-templates-library/92-letter-before-action-consumer.html#post20106

Halifax plc

 

LBA sent 11/01/06

Rec'd fob off letter 21/01/06

Last ditch attempt phone call to avoid court action 07/04/06

Reply rec'd 07/04/06 'On this occasion we are unable to help you'

Claim filed 19/04/06

Claim acknowledged 28/04/06

 

SETTLED IN FULL 11/05/06

 

 

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Send your LBA to the actual owners of the property as they have the principal "duty of care" to you. After all the letting firm are the agents of the landlord & not yours. The landlord has a duty to ensure the people they employ are capable, trustworthy & competent.

 

The owners probaly don't even know whats going on & an LBA to them might get a response your waiting for

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  • 10 years later...

Rossadam3000- can you let us or me know how did all end up, as now I'm in the similar predicament, and I must thank you and all other people who commented to get my head around thing and to know what questions to ask

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