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  1. #1

    Default Responsibility for Removal of Fallen Tree Limb in Massachusetts

    My question involves personal property located in the State of Massachusetts:

    I live in Boston. During the last storm (1/12/2011) a large limb from a tree on my neighbor's property fell into my yard. Though it caused no damage, there is still the matter of removal of the limb from my property. Insurance on either side does not cover it and my understanding is that the removal, or cost of removal, is the responsibility of my neighbor as this constitutes some form of trespass onto my property. My neighbor has a different understanding and will not consent to take responsibility for the removal.

    Am I correct is assuming that this is my neighbor's responsibility to remove their property(the tree limb) from my yard?

    If so, can someone point me to the law or provision that supports this under MA state law?

    I'd like to be able to cite the basis for their responsibility as they currently have framed their position around insurance coverage (i.e. their insurance does not cover it so they are not responsible) and I need to be able to offer them more than an opinion.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Responsibility for Removal of Fallen Tree Limb in Massachusetts

    When a healthy limb falls from a tree in a storm, courts often refer to the incident as an "act of God" which relieves the tree owner of liability. I haven't seen an authority that clearly defines the tree owner as having liability for removal of fallen branches, absent any claim of negligence. That is, if the tree owner knew that the tree was sick or dying there would be an associated negligence claim that could be asserted in relation to the fallen tree limb; but where there's a bad storm and a limb falls (as this story relates) establishing liability or succeeding in an insurance claim can be problematic. I found a Massachusetts local government agency describing how its position was that it had no obligation to remove tree limbs that fell from public lands or easements, but would generally do so as a courtesy. I found one person suggesting trying to pursue a neighbor whose tree limb had fallen on a trespass claim, but I'm skeptical of that given that trespass is an intentional tort; granted, it's difficult to think of another potentially viable theory.

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