- George R. Lee
My Neighbor's Tree Fell on My House, Who's Responsible?
Did the neighbors tree fall on you house, garage or property? Has it caused property damage or was anyone hurt? These are questions that have been asked thousands of times in our now 39 years of business as professional arborists for hire.
Ask 40 lawyers and perhaps get 40 opinions. Ask these same questions to the insurance companies and again perhaps 40 different interpretations of coverage. Then ask your neighbors and friends and you could get opinions which will exhaust your ear drums.
There are still 50 states in the United States. Yet, most states have their own legal guidelines and thoughts as too who’s to blame, (if any) when someone else's trees falls over, cracks a limb, or anytime in anyway a neighbors tree damages another parties property. What the law is in one state may not hold true in another.
With over 40 years experience working with lawyers, insurance companies, home owners, juries and judges, the following information we've gathered may be helpful guidelines for such occurrences happening within the state of Michigan:
1. If you intentionally plant a tree which may harm an adjacent property you could have a liability.
2. If you know your tree to be hazardous to others and do nothing to address the situation, you could encounter liability.
3. Should you hire a professional arborist to inspect what may be a hazardous risk tree and the arborist indicates actions to take (whether it be to prune, treat or remove) and provides assessment in written form and you do nothing and something happens, you could have serious liability on your hands.
4. If your neighbor takes it upon themselves to hire a professional arborist to assess your tree and advises you of its risk and you do nothing, you could be in for a financial shock.
Tips to remember:
Lawyers know very little about trees so make sure an experienced and seasoned arborist is involved first. Insurance companies frown on paying claims where a notice of hazard was given and sometimes fight back to deny claim payouts. If you’re given notice by a neighbor providing a professional tree risk assessment don’t ignore it.
"Act of God."
Ever heard that statement before? If your tree looks normal to you, no one has advised you otherwise and it falls on your neighbors property, then a couple things here to note:
Try to be a good neighbor and help out where possible.
The part which fell on the neighbors property is their responsibility.
The damaged parts of the tree on your property are your responsibility.
The insurance companies (where they apply) work out the details of and if any coverage is in place and for how much.
Not sure if your tree or trees may be sick, may be of higher than normal risk of breaking or falling? Call the tree doctor arborists at Branch Tree Service, Inc. Prevention is still the best practice to keep life and property safe and goes a long way in maintaining good relationships with your neighbors.