Who Is Liable When a Tree Falls on a Neighbor’s Property?
Most people have some kind of tree on their property. Trees offer shade during sunny weather and are a fantastic landscaping feature. They can also be a major source of problems and disputes if they fall down. Trees can fall over if they aren’t properly maintained or become diseased, and they can be knocked down by storms and bad weather. When trees fall into a neighbor’s property, homeowners may wonder if they are liable for the damage or not. Most people assume that they are liable given that they own the tree. This isn’t always the case though.
Whenever a tree falls into a neighbor’s property, the neighbor in question should submit a claim to their insurance company. It is up to the insurance company to take care of the damages. This is the case when trees are knocked over by forces of nature; such as healthy trees coming down during wind storms, tornadoes, and winter storms. In those cases, the tree – and the damage it causes – isn’t the responsibility of a homeowner. This is because nature is the reason that the tree fell over. The owner of the tree didn’t deliberately push it over to damage their neighbor’s property. That means that it should be covered by the neighbor’s insurance policy.
However, there are cases where homeowners may be held liable for damage caused by their trees falling. If the tree falls into a neighbor’s yard when trying to cut it down by themselves without professional help, for example, the responsibility for the damage falls on the homeowner. If a tree was diseased, dying, or unstable, and the homeowner knew about it, they could be held liable for the damage should the tree fall down by itself. They may also be liable if a tree is knocked down by a light storm that would not have otherwise felled a healthy tree. It is the responsibility of a homeowner to take steps to prevent a dying, diseased, or unstable tree from causing damage.
In cases where the homeowner is liable for the damages, their personal insurance company pays for the damages. The insurer must also investigate the claim and be there to defend the homeowner if they are sued by the neighbor who has their property damaged by the tree. If the homeowner is sued and loses their case, then their insurer will pay for the damages, up to the policy limit. Anything beyond the policy limit falls on to the homeowner to pay. Neighbors are also able to submit liability claims against homeowner policies.
Most of the times trees fall down are caused by storms and other acts of nature. As such, many homeowners who have their trees fall over shouldn’t worry about having to foot the bill, or having their insurers do it. They also don’t need to worry about their premium increasing if they are found to be not liable for the damages. It is still possible that their neighbor might try and sue to recover their deductible. As with most things, the best way to solve this problem is to take steps to avoid it. Make sure that you regularly check your tree and have it inspected whenever you notice health problems and signs of disease. If you believe you might be in danger contact our tree service in Shreveport.
Professional arborists can analyze trees to assess if they need pruning or other treatments, or if they should be removed. It might seem like an unnecessary expense, but it is far cheaper than having to pay for a neighbor’s home being destroyed and the associated legal costs. If you plan on living in your home for years to come, then it’s always good to have a healthy relationship with your neighbors. Taking care of your trees helps prevent arguments and problems. Be sure to talk to your insurance agent to learn more about damage claims from fallen trees.