Ever wondered what would happen if a tree from your property falls and crashes on your neighbor’s car, or worse, their house? Would you be held liable?
Honestly speaking, the answer to this question is a complicated one. It greatly depends on several factors, which include state laws, the circumstances of the accident, and even the type of insurance that the homeowner possesses. Please note: The following should not be taken as legal advice. Always seek legal counsel from a professional as each situation is unique and laws vary depending on local laws.
There are plenty of reasons that can cause a tree to fall—bad weather, construction, and old tree age.
Ultimately, however, homeowners are responsible for maintaining their house and yard and making sure that the whole property is hazard-free. This, of course, includes the trees planted there. This is the reason why proper tree maintenance and management is necessary.
Learn more about tree accident liability by examining these different scenarios:
Tree-Related Accidents during Extreme Weather
Severe weather disturbances like hurricanes and earthquakes have the capability of uprooting your trees. A powerful lightning strike can easily snap your tree and send it crashing into nearby houses and parked cars. Tornadoes can uproot your tree and send it crashing down. As disastrous as these examples may be, homeowners usually don’t suffer any liability in cases like this.
Since homeowners do not have the ability to predict events like these, they will not be held answerable for any damage caused by trees. The technical term for this is an “act of God.”
What about if a tree topples because a construction project you’re doing accidentally weakens its root network? This is a question tackled in the next section.
Tree-Related Accidents during Construction
Let’s say, you’ve hired a contractor to do some landscaping then your tree topples and crashes into your neighbor’s roof. Will you be held liable for the damages? The answer can go both ways.
Again, generally, you will be considered responsible for this accident even if you are not the one who cut the tree. If the contractor has proven that it was your instruction that caused the accident, then you will certainly be accountable for it.
If you have hired the service of a reputable contractor, and you are certain that it wasn’t your instruction that caused the accident, then you have nothing to worry since these companies also shoulder liabilities for these kinds of accidents. But if you’ve ended up hiring a dishonest and uninsured contractor, you’d be in big trouble because you will have to pay for the damages dealt from your own pocket.
You’ve probably heard this piece of advice a million times, but let me just repeat this: when seeking the help of a contractor, make sure to check first if they are insured so that you will not be held responsible for cases like tree accidents.
Tree-Related Accident Caused By a Dead Tree
As we have mentioned earlier, homeowners are expected all times to guarantee that their property is hazard-free. In other words, if an accident happens due to a tree that topples over, then the homeowner will certainly be held accountable for that.
Tree accidents like these can be avoided easily. If the homeowner has religiously inspected and maintained the trees in his yard, such incidents would not happen. Certainly, a diligent homeowner would notice dying trees and take care of the plants, preventing accidents from ever occurring.
In such case such as a dying tree that simply cannot be saved, availing of a tree removal service would be a very good idea; it would ensure that no case of falling timber would ever happen.
Conversely, if a claim adjuster can prove that the tree is already dead and yet you did not do anything to remove it, you’ll be faced with more consequences.
The Best Way of Avoiding Tree Accidents – Taking Care of Them!
It is no secret that keeping your trees healthy is one of the best ways that you can do to avoid tree accidents from occurring. Knowing the right time for a tree removal can also spare you from the legal hassles you would have to face if ever you end up inadvertently damaging the neighborhood because of negligence.
Inspect the plants yearly, provide their basic needs, and hire a tree care company if necessary.
Don’t drain your money by having to take care of damage claims every now and then. Be a responsible tree owner.