Do you have fallen trees and now you’re concerned about the possible high removal bill? So who’s responsible for moving the falling tree?
Read this article to find out more very important information on who’s responsibility it is to remove falling trees.
In an unwelcome repeat of last summer’s scenario following the derecho, many Washington area homeowners are dealing with the aftermath of fallen trees caused by winds from Hurricane Sandy that swept across the Eastern Seaboard this week.
If you were spared from this situation last summer, you might assume that your neighbor would be responsible for assuming the costs of his tree that fell on your property.
But that may not be the case.
The general rule is that unless the neighbor knew or should have known that his tree was unsafe, he is not responsible even if it hurt you or your family member or damaged your property. Our courts follow the old common law: It’s your property, so take care of it, unless you can prove your neighbor was negligent.
The legal answer to this is quite simple; however, the interpretation and implementation of the law is rather complex.
How do you prove that your neighbor’s tree was unsafe and that your neighbor was negligent in failing to assure that the tree would not fall? What constitutes negligence?
The answer depends on all of the facts. Did your neighbor have any knowledge that the tree was a potential hazard? Should the tree owner have been on notice of a problem because the tree was not showing leaves but only bare limbs?
Did you complain about the safety of the tree, and yet he took no action?
Here we have to look to specific cases. Take the leading case in the District of Columbia (Dudley v. Meadowbrook, 1961). The defendant’s tree fell onto the plaintiff’s property, and damaged a garage. The evidence indicated that there was no strong wind blowing when the tree fell. The court wrote that “a healthy tree does not ordinarily fall of its own weight without some exterior force being directed against it. Though some evidence indicated that the tree looked sound, it was in fact full of decay. At least 13 years earlier it had been subjected to surgery and a large area filled with concrete.”