Wind blew our tree down onto a neighbors yard. Is it my responsibility to remove it or his. (Legaly?)
I do not live in the USA but I would be inclined to think that you would be legally responsible for your tree that fell onto someone elses property. In the UK it would be considered trespass and you have a duty of care to prevent such things happening. Not clearing up your tree is not very neighbourly but as with a lot of cases neighbour disputes can be very complicated.
i'm not a lawyer or insurance agent.
But, from what i've seen trees blown down etc. are considered acts of God. An insurance man once explained to me, that if a tree fell across 4 yards, and the middle yard was uninsured, they don't get nothing from tree 'owners' or insurance etc. The insurance companies have it fixed like that; laws following or coerced to their lead...
Now, we did have a case where an elderly Lady, next to a HighSchool; at the edge of her property,w ehre she didn't go, leaving the kids alone,a nd hoping to be left alone was liable, for a large fallen branch; becasue it was dead, therefore ruled a standing hazard that she allowed to exist.
It didn't matter that the student parked the mustang convertible in a no parking zone, cuz was hiding and had no permit, nor that about 10 large limbs had died cuz the school had butchered them/ stobbed them off! The rest of the trees were healthy, except these improper cut branchings; which were towards the school/on her blind side.
So, the hair splitting seems to be: Act of God is not tree 'owners' fault; unless shown to be obviously dead/claimed that person allowed a hazard to exist. Many trees went down all over in the Florida hurricanes of 2004; and no finger pointing, just cleaning up of own yard. But, it is nice to be neighborly.
"Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed" -Sir Francis Bacon
Generally, if a tree falls and damages your property, you are responsible. If it is a lot of damage, contact your insurance company for advice, or to file a claim. The neighbor is often held to be responsible for removing and cleaning up the fallen tree. Short of going to court (or arbitration) there is little you can do to force the neighbor to pay.
If the neighbor had construction knowledge of the potential for the tree to cause damage, you might have a good case to get the neighbor to pay all costs. If they are ‘neighborly’, perhaps they will agree to pay part or all of the costs. Talk to them.
Since I’m not a lawyer, I have to mention that this is not legal advice, but just my own understanding based on cases I’ve been involved in. When a question about the law comes up, contact your attorney.
Russ Carlson, RCA, BCMA
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