Jeana's World of Law

Jeana's World of Law

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Who Is Legally Responsible When A Tree Falls?

Guest Post by David Cooper

Fallen trees are just one problem that resulted from the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. Many of these trees damaged homes, cars, and even took lives. However, some trees may not cause any damage but may still be a safety issue, inconvenience, or eyesore to have across a yard or driveway.  

The Insurance Information Institute released a press release following Hurricane Sandy stating that homeowners insurance policies for hurricane damage do not cover tree removal if the fallen tree did not damage an insured structure. 

What this means is that if a tree fell and hit a house or car, then its removal and damage-related costs are covered. However, if a tree fell and no damage was caused, neither insurance nor the city will cover the costs. In these situations, the tree will remain where it fell until the property owner either pays for its removal or removes it themselves.

However, this issue doesn't just affect those who live in the path of hurricanes. For example, on the other side of the country in Washington, Seattle and surrounding local jurisdictions have ordinances that hold a homeowner responsible for any damage caused by street trees that are not planted by that state's municipalities. These are technically "wild" trees that grew on their own, and any Arborist Seattle to New Jersey knows that the removal of these trees can be tricky.

In the US, no one is held legally responsible for "acts of nature". If a tree falls on a person's property, regardless of where it came from, they are responsible for the removal of the tree and resulting debris on their property. 

If a person lives in close proximity to any trees that are not owned, it is advised to contact the local utilities or transportation department to ensure that they are aware of all of the risks of what could happen if those trees suddenly fall. In order to legally remove problem street trees, a permit is required. Some cities will issue the permit for free, but you have to pay for removal. From New York City to Bellevue tree removal services can assist those with problem or fallen trees.

1 comment:

  1. When a tree falls, I will probably look to the person that is closest but when it is natural decay and falling, what can you do? Besides chop it up and burn it for firewood use.

    -Samudaworth Tree Service
    Tree Removal Brooklyn