Most people have one or more trees on their property. These majestic pieces of nature provide shade and add beauty to the landscape. But trees can also lead to disputes when they fall and damage property. A tree may fall over due to a number of reasons: storm, disease or if it is not properly maintained.
But what happens if a neighbor’s tree falls onto your property causing damage? Perhaps, you repeatedly asked your neighbor to remove the risky tree, but they ignored your concerns. If the otherwise healthy tree was brought down by a storm, a tornado or other acts of nature, your neighbor may not be responsible.
So when can you hold your neighbor responsible for the fallen tree?
To establish fault, it helps to start by establishing who owns the tree. If the trunk is on your neighbor’s property, they own the tree. That said, you can hold your neighbor liable for tree damage if they previously knew that the tree posed a risk but did nothing to address the matter. For instance, the neighbor will be liable if they had received prior professional advice that the tree was hazardous. If the tree owner fails to follow up on the issue, they will be responsible for any damages resulting from a tree that has been declared a predictable hazard.
But, the tree owner does not need to be informed about the danger posed by their tree to be held liable. This is particularly true if the tree had clear defects like dead or broken branches, split trunk, root damage or visible leaning. Remember, the tree owner has a duty of care to maintain a safe environment. Failing to do so can amount to negligence.
Trees can be a beautiful addition to the landscape. However, they can also cause problems if they fall. Find out how you can safeguard your rights and interests while pursuing a property damage dispute that is occasioned by a fallen tree or tree branch.