Liability For Falling Trees
Any time we have a storm and trees from one person’s yard fall into the yard of the adjoining landowner causing damage, we get questions about who is liable for the damage and/or cleanup. The answer in many cases depends on the condition of the tree prior to the storm. If it was a healthy tree and there was no notice to your neighbor that it posed a risk, then the neighbor nor his insurance company will be responsible for any damage that it caused to you or your property or for removing the tree. If the tree was rotten, leaning or otherwise in a condition that put your neighbor on notice that it posed a risk, then your neighbor and his insurance company, if he was insured, would be responsible for the damage to your property. A landowner has a duty to keep a watch on the condition of the trees on their property and the risks that they may pose to others and their property.
If the tree is rotten or otherwise in bad shape and the owner knew or should have known it was a danger to fall with or without a storm and it falls on the owner’s house during a storm this poses other issues. Homeowners’ insurance will pay when the homeowner’s negligence causes damage to others, but in many cases it WILL NOT pay when the homeowner’s negligence damages the homeowner or the homeowner’s family. That means if a rotten tree you own falls on your own house or car there may be issues with insurance coverage. It is a good idea to make sure that you are insured for natural disasters that can cause extensive damage to homes and cars. Homeowner’s coverage and “full coverage” or comprehensive coverage on cars can help to pay for the unexpected damage caused by storms. Also, make sure you take care of any trees that are in bad shape before they cause problems.