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How do I know who is liable for a tree falling?

If a tree has fallen and damage has been done to your property, assuming the tree is not your tree, it obviously belongs to someone else. The question, however, is whether the neighbor should have known the tree was unsafe and their knowledge and inaction rose to the level of negligence or whether the tree simply fell due to an act of God, which no one could have reasonably foreseen.

Neighbor was negligent for falling tree

For your neighbor to be negligent the court will ask several questions. Did your neighbor have any knowledge the tree was potentially hazardous? Did you notify your neighbor the tree was unsafe? Did you complain previously about the tree and ask them to make it safer but they refused?

For the sake of the argument let's assume the neighbor knew or should have known the tree was unsafe. For instance, if there was an old, dead tree that was leaning precariously over your property line and you notified your neighbor in writing that the tree could possibly damage your property and asked them to trim and remove the dangerous condition, you may be able to legally hold your neighbor liable if the tree fell due to their inaction.

Best case scenario, you have made all requests in writing, sent the letter certified mail to the homeowner and their insurance company, included pictures, and kept a copy of the letter for yourself. In this case you could argue you notified the owner of the potential for damage and have done your legal duty, now it's time for the court to hold the owner of the tree liable for their negligence.

Tree was on my property and damaged my car

If the tree was on your own property and falls but only damages your own property, under some conditions, you may be covered under your own homeowner's policy for the damages and the tree removal, depending on the circumstances and on your insurance coverage. In most cases you would have to pay for the removal of the debris unless your home or car or another structure on your property has been damaged.

If a tree you own falls and damages someone else's property the same rules discussed above apply: if your negligent actions led to the damage caused by the tree your neighbor could sue you for compensation for their losses. Just like a neighbor must act reasonably to prevent trees from damaging your property- you must also act reasonable to ensure all of your trees and shrubs are contained and do not pose a risk to your neighbor or their property. Whether it's you or your neighbor, ignoring a damaged or unhealthy tree creates liability.

Should I file a case against my neighbor for a tree falling?

If a neighbor's tree fell on your property and caused substantial damage you may have the legal right to file a legal case against them, assuming you can prove they were negligent. Due to the extensive background research required, potential expert testimony required, and a potentially lengthy trial, however, filing a suit is not always the best course of action.

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