Who Is Responsible For A Fallen Tree?
Trees can add beauty to any home. Healthy, well-cared-for trees can increase the value of your home as well. However, if a tree or large limb falls it can potentially cause damage, injury, or create a mess that no one will be happy to clean up.
If a tree falls, who is responsible for removing it? Also, who is responsible if the tree falls and damages property or injures someone?
There are a few things to look at before you can determine who is responsible for covering the costs of damage caused by a fallen tree and its removal:
Why Did the Tree Fall?
There are many reasons why a tree has falling, and while some are out of our control, other times a tree falling can be completely avoidable with proper care.
Natural Causes: These include various environmental events, such as high winds, storms, hurricanes, or any other natural and unavoidable events.
Negligence: This can refer to any time where a tree was not properly taken care of. This can include not trimming or pruning the limbs, signs of a pest infestation, or failing to have someone see if the tree is sick or diseased.
Whose Tree is It?
If you live close to your neighbors, or if there are trees in the surrounding area it might not be completely obvious who’s tree it is.
Yours: If the tree trunk grows within the lines of your property, it is considered your tree. No matter how much of the tree grows onto your neighbor’s side, if the trunk is on your property, it is your tree.
Your Neighbor: If the tree trunk is on your neighbor’s property, then the tree belongs to them.
Shared: If the trunk of a tree grows directly on the property line, or in between the two properties as a “boundary tree”, both you and your neighbor share ownership and responsibility of the tree.
Will My Homeowners Insurance Cover A Down Tree?
It usually falls on the insurance company but there are a few factors that can affect if your homeowner’s insurance will cover the costs with a tree falling on your property:
You’re Covered: If the tree fell due to natural causes, yes, your homeowner’s insurance will cover the cost of removal and damage. If a tree from your property or your neighbor’s property falls due to natural causes bringing damages to a shared fence, your homeowner’s insurance will typically cover 50% while your neighbor’s insurance covers the remaining 50%.
Not Covered: If the tree fell due to negligence such as lack of care and maintenance, no your homeowner’s insurance will not cover any costs with clean-up, removal, or repairs.
Again, there can be a few factors that affect how this will be handled. In most situations, determining who is responsible is pretty straightforward:
Your Responsibility: If unavoidable circumstances lead to a tree from your neighbor’s property falling onto yours it is your responsibility to have the tree removed. You will need to contact your homeowner’s insurance but they will likely cover all the costs associated with it.
Your Neighbor’s Responsibility: If a tree falls onto your property due to your neighbor’s negligence, they will be held liable for damages and be responsible for any costs associated with having it removed.
Should I Remove a Fallen Tree?
No. Tree removal is one of the riskiest jobs to do if you lack proper training and experience. While a DIY attitude may seem tempting, successfully removing a tree is a complex job that requires in-depth training, specialized equipment, and proper licensing.
If you try to remove a tree on your own, or if you hire a person without the proper licensing instead of a professional tree service, you will be held personally liable for any damage or injury resulting from the removal, transportation, or disposal of the tree.
When determining who is responsible for a down tree you will need to see what caused it to fall and who the tree belongs to. The best way to avoid tree issues is to work with a tree care professional to ensure the health, safety, and beauty of your land.