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A Tree Falls on a Neighbor’s Property — Who is Liable?

You’d be hard-pressed to find any yard absent of trees. However, while trees provide plenty of shade and some added color to your yard, they can also potentially cause disputes between neighbors should they fall over. Whether it’s due to a lack of maintenance or a strong storm, trees can topple for a multitude of reasons. If that happens, many homeowners are left wondering if they are liable for any damages. Most assume they are liable because the tree is in their yard. However, that is not always the case.

Immediately after a tree falls onto a neighbor’s property, that neighbor should submit a claim to his or her insurance company. If the tree fell over due to an act of nature, the insurance company is usually responsible for taking care of the damages. If there is a strong wind storm, tornado, hurricane, or any other natural disaster, the homeowner is not liable since nature is deemed responsible for the tree falling. The neighbor’s insurance policy should cover the damages.

There are some cases in which a homeowner would be liable, though. For example, if the homeowner attempted to cut down the tree without professional assistance, the damage would be the responsibility of the homeowner. Additionally, if a tree was dying or unstable and the homeowner was aware, he or she could also be liable if it falls over on its own or during a light storm. It is the homeowner’s responsibility to take the necessary steps if they know they have a dying, unstable, or diseased tree.

The best way for homeowners to avoid this is to regularly monitor the trees in their yard and have them inspected at the first sign of any suspected issues. It’s better to have them examined than to potentially pay for damages should the unhealthy tree fall.

For additional information regarding potential liabilities for homeowners, please contact us at your convenience.