When Is A Property Owner Liable For Injuries Caused By A Fallen Tree?

If you are injured by a falling tree, can you claim damages from the property's owner? The simple answer is that it depends on different issues. Here are some of the questions that may affect the owner's liability:

Was the Danger Foreseeable?

Sometimes trees just fall without any notice or warning signs; in such cases, you can't hold the owner of a tree liable for damages. This may be the case, for example, if the tree is weak or diseased inside its trunk, but the symptoms aren't yet visible on the outside. Another example is if the tree has weak roots. Strong winds can easily topple such trees.

However, there are also cases where a tree is clearly a danger to the community but the owner doesn't take appropriate measures to prevent injury. For example, if a tree is leaning, has a dying trunk, or looks sickly, it should be removed before it falls or causes injury. The owner of such a tree becomes liable for the ensuing damages if the tree does fall and cause injury.

Where Was the Tree Growing?

Generally, property owners are expected to be more responsible for trees on residential properties than those in undeveloped woodlands. This makes sense if you consider that in a forest with multiple trees, it's difficult for the property owner to take care of all the trees, identify looming dangers, and deal with them.

However, residential properties usually have fewer trees that aren't difficult to take care of. It's also easy to identify a sick or dying tree in your back or front yard than it is to do the same for trees in woodland. Therefore, you have a strong case if you are injured by a tree growing on a residential property.

Did the Owner's Action Contribute to the Danger?

The third question you should consider is whether the owner of the property did something that caused or encouraged the tree to topple. If that is the case, then you have a strong case against the property owner. For example, a homeowner who engages in DIY tree removal and causes the tree to fall over the fence and injure passersby is responsible for the passersby's injuries. The same is true if a homeowner tries to trim a tree and one of its branches fall and injures a neighbor.

As you can see, no single factor determines whether you can hold a property owner liable for injuries caused by a falling tree. If you are nursing such injuries, consult an injury attorney from a firm like Gregory R Heline & Associates Law Office to help you analyze the circumstances of your injury and advise you on the way forward.