How to Deal With Tree Falls

How do you deal with tree falls? If a tree from someone else’s property falls and injures you or your property, who’s responsible?

I have to make a confession. My biggest fear is being killed by a tree falling on my vehicle while driving down the road. So given my fears, I’ve been paying attention to trees falling and the damage they cause and who’s responsible, if anybody?

Most trees fall during storms or high winds, but it usually brings down the weakest trees.

Is Your Neighbor Responsible?

I think a lot of people have the misunderstanding that neighbors are responsible for the damage their trees do to other people’s property or, God forbid to other people.

Your neighbor is responsible and may be liable only if they had reason to know that their tree might be damaged or rotted.

So, if my neighbor’s insurance company is not going to pay for the harm that their tree caused, will my insurance company pay for it?

In most cases, yes, but obviously, you don’t want to make a claim if you don’t have to on your insurance policy because, as we all know, it’ll make your insurance rates go up.

Everybody has an obligation to provide care and maintenance for their trees to make sure those trees don’t cause damage to their neighbor’s property.

Well, if a neighbor’s tree is dead or has dead limbs, your neighbor has an obligation to take care of that tree and get it down. If they don’t, they’re responsible for the harm they caused.

But what happens if the insurance company takes the position that it was a healthy tree, so your neighbor is not liable, and you’re on your own pal?

You either have to file a lawsuit against your neighbor, which no one really wants to do, do they?

Or you have to turn it into your own homeowner’s insurance company. But if you do that, they might file a suit against your neighbor to get reimbursed.

Branches Hang Over Someone Else’s Property

Another situation that you’ve probably seen hundreds of times. The tree is on one person’s property, but the branches hang over and lean over on someone else’s property.

Can the property owner under those branches trim the branches to make sure that branches don’t fall down and injure your property or anybody in your family?

The reality is, though, you ought to go talk to your neighbor and make sure you work it out with him or her about cutting those branches.

deal with tree falls

You want good neighborly relations, I would think. Let’s say after a storm, you walk out, and a tree has fallen on part of your house or has fallen on one of your cars. What do you do?

First, you need to find out if the tree was on your property or someone else’s property. If it were on someone else’s property, you’d need to look and see whether there’s any indication that the tree was unhealthy.

You’re likely going to see a breakage at either some part of the trunk or at the tree branch, and you can tell, or certainly, an expert can come and look.

You need to get as much evidence as you can as soon after the event happens so that you can preserve it just in case you need it.

Once that tree is removed, you’ll not have any access to it to take pictures or to have it examined by someone as to what the condition of the tree was.

What you need to do is go to your neighbor to turn this into their insurance company to pay for the damage that their tree caused to your property.

If the fallen tree or tree branch causes injury to someone, you need to call 9 1 1 just as fast as you can. If they get hit by that falling ranch or tree, they’re going to be seriously injured, and you need to make sure they’re taken care of.

I would love to see any of these situations we’ve talked about avoided. No one wants their home or their car damaged, and God forbid, no one wants to be hurt by a falling tree or a falling branch.

How to Prevent Tree Falls

One of the ways you can prevent this from happening is to have a lawn service company or a tree company come out to your home within a few days of Labor Day to assess the condition of your trees. Why Labor Day? Because the leaves are still on the trees.

And you can see if some parts of the tree have dead leaves and dead branches and other parts that are not. If you see a dead tree or dead limbs on your neighbor’s property, give your neighbor a call. Send them a letter, but put them on notice of your concern. That way, the ball’s in their court to take action.

If they do nothing and that tree or that limb causes damage, you at least have evidence of having put them on notice, and therefore they now can’t be said that they’re not responsible for the damage the tree caused.

Author Bio

Tim Miley is the Founder of Miley Legal Accident Injury Lawyers, a West Virginia personal injury law firm he formed in 2006. With more than 30 years of experience in personal injury law, he is dedicated to representing clients in a wide range of personal injury cases, including car accidents, trucking accidents, motorcycle accidents, brain injuries, wrongful death, and other personal injury matters.

Tim received his Juris Doctor from Duquesne University and is a member of the West Virginia State Bar and the Harrison County Bar Association. He has helped his clients win more than $10 million in personal injury verdicts and settlements and has further served the people of West Virginia by filling legislative roles in the state’s government since 2004.

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