Fallen Tree Liability
With the large number of tropical storms, hurricanes, and even regular thunderstorms, it should come as no surprise that Florida residents deal with a lot of fallen debris.
A fallen tree, however, can happen at any time and other issues that accompany tree liability, such as overhanging branches or encroaching roots can be just as complex.
Because branches and roots frequently cross property lines, figuring out who may be responsible for property damage due to a fallen tree can substantially impact an individual’s Florida property insurance.
Under Florida law, the health of a tree and what caused its fall will determine who is liable for any resulting property damage and the tree’s removal.
Attorney for Fallen Tree Liability in Tampa, Florida
If you or someone you know has had a tree fall on their property, or if a tree on your hard has fallen on someone else’s property and you need an attorney to help you determine your liability options, contact an experienced insurance attorney at Germain Law Group, P.A..
Our experienced insurance attorney in Hillsborough County handles multiple types of insurance cases like battling homeowner’s insurance agencies, flood damage claims, water damage, and similar property damage claims the Greater Tampa Bay Area.
Call Germain Law Group, P.A. at (813) 835-8888 for more information.
Overview of Fallen Tree Liability Resources
- Who is liable for fallen tree damage?
- Does Homeowner’s Insurance cover fallen trees?
- Who is responsible for overhanging branches?
- How should I handle a dead or damaged tree?
One of the most common fallen tree scenarios involves neighbors. One neighbor has a tree that falls during a storm and damages another neighbor’s car, house, or other property. The question becomes, who is liable for the damage.
In general, the tree owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy does not cover any damage to another person’s property due to a fallen tree, even the tree removal. In many cases, it is the individual whose property was damaged who will be responsible for removing the tree and repairing his or her own property.
While this may seem inherently unfair, often it is difficult to discern which neighbor actually has ownership over a tree –especially when a tree is so close to the property line that it damages another’s belongings. Most homeowner’s insurance policies state that every policy owner is responsible for damage that occurs on his or her own property.
Whether an individual’s homeowner’s insurance will cover damage from a fallen tree will depend on a number of different factors. Things like, who owned the fallen tree, what type of property did the tree damage, and what state was the tree in when it fell would be important in determining coverage.
If a tree damaged a policyholder’s home, for example, his or her homeowner’s insurance would likely cover that cost. If the damage were due to the wind or a hurricane, a homeowner’s policy that has hurricane or wind coverage would cover that cost.
Whether an individual is responsible for damage caused by overhanging roots or encroaching tree branches will depend, still, on the health of the tree. In Gallo v. Heller, 512 So. 2d 215, 216 (Fla. 3d DCA 1987), the Court held that “a possessor of land is not liable to persons outside the land for a nuisance resulting from trees and natural vegetation growing in the land.”
Thus, if a branch or root from a neighbor’s land is encroaching on a claimant’s land, he or she is welcome to trim it as his or her own costs, but the neighbor will only be liable if that tree damages the claimant’s property due to it being dead or rotted.
When a tree is considered healthy and well maintained, the liability for damage done from a fallen tree is not readily determinable. When a person’s property is damaged due to a tree that was dead or rotting, then liability can be determined based on who was responsible for maintaining that tree.
While it can be difficult to determine which party owns a tree and therefore difficult to assess property liability, if an individual can show that the neighbor had ownership of the fallen tree or if the neighbor had a responsibility to trim a dead or diseased tree, then that neighbor may be held liable for any resulting property damage from a tree fall.
The party requesting damages for a fallen tree must show:
- the neighbor had a duty to maintain the collapsed tree;
- the neighbor breached that duty to maintain the tree;
- the neighbor’s failure to maintain the fallen tree was the actual and proximate cause of the claimant’s damage; and
- the claimant suffered damage from the fallen tree.
Find a Lawyer for Fallen Tree Damage in Hillsborough County, FL
If you or someone you know has sustained damage to their property due to a fallen tree, and you believe that you deserve compensation either from a neighbor or your homeowner’s insurance company, contact an experienced insurance litigation attorney at Germain Law Group, P.A..
At Germain Law Group, P.A., we represent clients seeking aid in obtaining compensation for multiple types of insurance claims, from homeowner’s insurance to automobile insurance. Our office takes cases throughout the Tampa Bay Area, in places like Pinellas County, Pasco County, Polk County, and Hernando County.
Have your case reviewed during a free initial consultation when you call (813) 835-8888 or fill out an online contact form today.
This article was last updated on Friday, February 16, 2018.