Storms and natural disasters happen so it’s important to know whose legal responsibility and liability it is for fallen tree damage.
Who’s Responsible or Liable for Fallen Tree Damage and Removal?
Always consult your attorney and/or insurance company to find out your legal rights and obligations on this topic. Please review my Disclaimer Page for further definition on this topic.
Sometimes things happen and you’re not always in control of the consequences. This is especially true when it comes to fallen trees.
You can do everything right with keeping them healthy but storms and natural disasters happen when it’s least expected.
That’s why you need to know your rights, as well as your neighbor for fallen tree liability.
Here in Wisconsin, we’ve been experiencing Ash Borer and the devastation from this insect is widespread.
It’s especially disconcerting when the trees are on either side of the fence, so to speak.
There are a host of arboreal diseases and disasters that affect trees and shrubs to bring them falling down on our neighbors or even on our property. Learn how to protect yourself and property before this occurs.
So, the question posed is this: Who’s responsible and liable for fallen tree damage and/or removal?
Unfortunately, this is a loaded question, since there are a number of things to take into consideration like:
Was the tree diseased or dead before the fall?
If the owner of the tree knew this ahead of time and neglected to fall the tree professionally and it falls by itself or with the help of a storm or natural disaster, then it’s the owner’s responsibility and liability for any damage done.
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Did owner of tree fall the tree or was it done professionally?
Most landscape or arborists carry liability insurance for just such circumstances, plus they’re usually well-versed in proper tree management, care and removal. That being said, homeowners who do their own tree removal are responsible for their workmanship and any damage that may occur due to lack of experience or negligence.
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Did you or your neighbor notify in writing to express any concerns?
Communication is key, especially if you or your neighbor knows that there’s potential for damage. Don’t let anything come to chance when it comes to personal property or even human life and limb (no pun intended). Always think safety first and be proactive.
Was the tree properly pruned or maintained?
If the health of the tree was neglected, then the owner of said tree is responsible. Like any living thing, ownership requires that certain tasks are done to maintain the integrity of that living thing–in this case, a tree.
If a natural disaster like a tornado or hurricane and a tree falls on one’s home or property, whose responsibility is it?
When everything is said and done, if a natural disaster strikes, really no one can account for that, so no one is actually at fault. So a healthy tree loses a limb or tumbles from excessive wind, rain, etc, then wherever the tree fell, it’s that property owner’s responsibility to incur any damage costs.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Fallen Trees
Of course, you should always contact your insurance company should you have any questions about coverage from falling trees or limbs, as well as liability or responsibility.
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This is crucial if you have a number of large species close to your home or species that are known to break or uproot.
Here in Wisconsin, two trees I can think that wreck havoc are the Silver Maple and Cottonwood, but there are many more trees that fit the bill.
The bottom line is this: You are responsible for your trees’ good health and maintenance. Be proactive as best you can with proper pruning and arboreal care, not only to insure that events like this don’t occur but also for the benefit of being able to enjoy the beauty that trees offer to one and all.
For more great lawn and garden tips and ideas, be sure to check out Wisconsin Homemaker’s Gardening Section.