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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    1

    Default Falling Tree

    I am in Houston Texas. We have a hackberry tree in our back yard that is located on the fence line next to an adjacent house. This morning we heard a crack and on investigation found the tree had begun to fall and is leaning on the fence and against the house next door. The question I have is... Who if anyone is liable for any damage and who is liable for the cost of removal?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    5,438

    Default Re: Falling Tree

    You want to know who is liable for your tree falling on someone else's property.

    Hmmm...let me get back with you on that, okay?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    575

    Default Re: Falling Tree

    Okay, I'm NOT a lawyer so take this FWIW, free commentary.

    Tree law isn't simple - there is the old Massachusett's doctrine and a more recent trend emerging as seen in a Virginia case. What Texas currently follows, I can't tell you. Links to articles on both are below.

    Generally both parties have rights AND responsibilities. Your neighbor has the right to protect his property, and you have the duty to prevent damage to his property. Given that the tree is right on the property line further adds to the confusion as to ownership and who bears the financial burden. If the tree were diseased and still standing, a court would likely rule that both of you share the burden of removal to prevent future damage. But if you had no knowledge that the tree wasn't healthy, and the incident is attributable to the old "act of God" standard, such as a storm or wind, it's likely the neighbor(and his insurance co) bears the financial burden of any fence and house damage, and removing the tree. He's simply unlucky that it fell his way.

    If the cost of removing the tree/house damage is over his homeowner's deductible your neighbor should probably contact his insurance company and see what they say. You may also wish to do the same, especially if he refuses to be proactive/cooperative in figuring out who is responsible for removing the tree before it causes further damage, or claims you are responsible or in some way negligent.

    http://www.insurance.com/quotes/arti...mage/artid/440

    http://www.lawlib.state.ma.us/trees.html

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...=moreheadlines

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Ohio
    Posts
    2,006

    Default Re: Falling Tree

    You are liable for the removal of the tree if it's your tree. If you wait until it hits the house then your homeowners policy should go into effect. I had the exact same thing happen to me once and I choose not to wait until it hurt someone. It cost me about 800bucks. BTW, the insurance company would only pay IF the tree actually fell and NOT for the removal if it didn't State Farm told me it was company wide procedure. Still don't agree with it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    25,822

    Default Re: Falling Tree

    Quote Quoting gigirle
    View Post
    You are liable for the removal of the tree if it's your tree. If you wait until it hits the house then your homeowners policy should go into effect. I had the exact same thing happen to me once and I choose not to wait until it hurt someone. It cost me about 800bucks. BTW, the insurance company would only pay IF the tree actually fell and NOT for the removal if it didn't State Farm told me it was company wide procedure. Still don't agree with it.
    often not true gigirlie. read buzzards post. if an "act of God" the injured homeowner is often (depending upon state law) responsible for clean up of their own yard and damages.

    as well, this tree is "on the property line" which would suggest possible joint ownership. I believe there are too many complexities in this one little situation to offer a blanket response.
    I am not an attorney and any advice is not to be construed as legal advice. You might even want to ignore my advice. Actually, there are plenty of real attorneys that you might want to ignore as well.

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