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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    1

    Default Who Is Responsible For Removal Of A Fallen Tree

    My question involves personal property located in the State of: Montgomery County, Maryland.'


    During the last thunderstorm, a large tree fell on our property as well as the neighboring property on our left. The tree sits very close to our property line and we believe it belongs to our backyard neighbor. A portion of the trunk is on our property. We contact our homeowners insurance and they told us that the tree removal is the responsibility the landowner in which the tree fell on. We are willing to split the cost of the tree removal with our neighbor, but they feel that it is all our responsiblitiy. We will not be able to prove that the tree is our back neighbor's without a site survey (cost about $2000) - and the back neighbor refuses to acknowledge ownership of the tree. Our side neighbor has threaten to take this to court for the cost of the removal.
    The tree was deterioriated in the center (the center was hollow) but there were no oblivous signs that the tree was diseased before the storm.

    My question is: Where can I find legal information about fallen tree responsiblity in my state so we can show our left neighbor that we are not totally responsible. Or get him some proof without getting our lawyer involved. Or who in my county government could I ask? The cost of tree removal is about $500-$1000.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Behind a Desk
    Posts
    74,906

    Default Re: Who Is Responsible For Removal Of A Fallen Tree

    If they take you to court, turn the claim over to your insurance company. If they sue you, they will have the burden of proof as to whose tree it is.

    Generally speaking, if there's no reason to suspect that a tree is sick or dangerous, fallen limbs are considered "acts of God", not negligence by the tree owner.

    According to this (PDF),
    Quote Quoting Responsibility For Fallen Tree
    In Virginia and Maryland, the general rule for fallen trees, or similar accidents that may be qualified as an “Act of God,” is that the affected owner is responsible for the damages to their own property, including clean up, removal and similar expenses. Such accidents are normally covered by the affected owner’s insurance, and are usually resolved by reporting the claim. As a result, the association should encourage the affected owner to contact his or her insurance company before submitting the claim under the association’s policy, if the damages exceed the policy deductible.

    Please note, however, that the exception to the general rule is that the owner of the property where the tree originated will be responsible for damage to a neighbor’s property if the owner knew or had reason to know that the tree presented a danger to adjoining properties. For example, if a tree was diseased and had been weakened by previous storms, it may be fair to say that the owner had reason to believe that the tree would fall and, judging by its size, damage a neighbor’s property. Otherwise, the accident is considered an “Act of God” and the affected owner is therefore responsible for the damage to his or her property.

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