Can I sue golf course due to an accident that I had because of a tree that fell from their property onto city street after a storm?

I was driving to pick up my sister and the street was poorly lit. I didn’t notice a tree had fallen and broken the gate at the golf course and was in the middle of the street. I steered away from it aggressively and it damaged my right fender, wind shield, and some of the hood. The insurance does not cover the damage, as I only have limited coverage. Can I sue the business? This was about 12 hours after a hurricane had cleared the city.

Asked on August 29, 2011 Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

It is doubtful that you can sue. There is only liability, or an obligation to pay, if there is fault. Fault in a case like this generally depends on negligence, or unreasonable carelessness. The hurricane knocked over many trees, including healthy ones, so there's not likely to be any fault in the tree falling. Given the widespread damage and disruption, as well as the fact that governments were telling people to *not* go into work, it is no likely that there was anything unreasonable in their not clearing the tree within 12 hours--indeed, given how busy tree cutting services would have been with more critical matters (e.g. trees on power poles, or on houses), it may have been impossible to find anyone to do the work even if someone from the golf course had been there immediately and noticed it. Finally, the golf course is not responsible for it being night or the street lights being bad, which clearly contributed to the accident.

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