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TIMBER! Falling Trees and your Rights

Falling trees during storm

We’ve had a pretty rough weekend.  There have been two severe thunderstorms that hit our city in the past 72 hours.  Plenty of individuals are still without electricity and many have experienced damaged to their homes and property.  Fallen trees caused some of this damage.  So what happens in the situation where your neighbor’s tree has fallen into your yard?  What happens when that tree has caused damage to your property?

Fallen trees after a severe thunderstorm or tornado are pretty common.  However, you will be hard pressed to sue anyone for damage caused by “their” tree to your property UNLESS you can show that their tree was diseased or a hazard before the storm occurred.  However, if the tree fell simply because of the storm and it was assumed to have been a perfectly healthy tree, you will have no cause of action against your neighbor.  If your neighbor’s tree fell into your yard because of the storm, and the tree was not diseased or a hazard previously, it will be your burden to get the tree removed from your property.  Each county is responsible for the removal of trees from their resident’s property.  Therefore, should this be the situation you’re currently in, please contact your county’s housing department.  If the tree fell and caused damage to your property (home, car, yard, or etc.) without fault of your neighbor, it will be your burden to get it fixed.  You will need to place a claim with your homeowners insurance for them to fix it.  If the tree fell and it was the fault of your neighbor, then you have the ability to sue your neighbor for damages.  You will have to prove that it was the fault of your neighbor in court in order for you to be successful at getting a judgment.  You may do this by taking pictures of the tree when you’ve noticed the hazardous situation, as well as notarized letters sent to your neighbor informing them of the hazardous situation their tree presents.

In summary, if you and your neighbor had no idea of any hazard or disease of the tree, if the tree fell during the storms this weekend into your yard (whether or not it caused damage), it will be up to you to get the tree removed and report to your insurance any claims related to the fallen property.  If you can prove that before the storm your neighbor knew their tree was hazardous, you may bring suit against them in court for fallen tree that occurred over the weekend.

The same goes for city trees, if the city knew of a hazardous condition in the tree before the storms this weekend and they chose not to cure it, should the tree have caused any damage to your property you may have suit against the city for the damage.

Tree removal will be the responsibility of your neighbor or the city if you can show that there was a hazardous condition present before the storms as well, otherwise, this again will be your responsibility to remove it.
Stay cool this week, and be safe!

Visit Smith Legal Services, LLC. at www.mysmithlegal.com

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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