Fallen tree damage and homeowner liability
After the recent chain of storms in the Metro Atlanta area, I’ve had customers and friends ask me who’s responsible when a neighbor’s tree falls on their property or vice versa . This is the least favorite part of my job because in many cases the property damage could have been avoided with spring time property maintenance and inspections.
Regular property maintenance and inspections
You should be inspecting your property annually for trees and structures that may present potential issues. The best time to perform inspections is before the onset of storm season in your area. If you are not comfortable inspecting your property or have questions, Call us for professional advice.
So who is liable for a fallen tree?
Typically insurance looks at a couple of things to determine liability. A friend in the insurance business recently explained “Negligence” vs “Act of God”. Negligence is defined by the presence of trees on the property that are already damaged, dead, or diseased. Homeowners that have failed to address those existing items can be held financially liable if a tree from their property falls on a neighbor’s property and causes damage. To protect yourself, have your trees and property inspected annually and have the recommended maintenance done. You will also want to maintain a record of work done in case you are asked for proof of proper maintenance from your insurance if a tree falls and causes damage. On the other hand, if a healthy tree falls from your property onto a neighbors in what is referred to as an “act of god” (storm, wind, lightning) your neighbor would be responsible for the cost of cleanup and repair.
Let me finish up by saying that I’m not an attorney so if you’ve already had an incident and you are not able to resolve it with your neighbor and/or insurance company you may need to contact your attorney. Ideally, working to resolve the issue with your neighbor through respectful and honest communication will likely create a more positive outcome and favorable relationship moving forward.
For questions or expert advice, please call and ask to speak with Candace at Sharp Tree Service.