What to do if our 2 cars were parked in our driveway when a large branch from a tree in the city parkway fell and damaged both cars?

I filed a claim with the city. Their adjuster called and wanted to pay half the claim. She sited that since cities have no money they now have resolutions stating that they are not liable but she was willing to meet me half way. I told her that I would take them to small claims court. I had a similar incident about 5 years ago; a branch fell when I was parked on the street and crushed the car. The city refused to pay. I took them to small claims court and won because the city could not show maintenance records. Is this a good defense? The judge just had a similar case new the law.

Asked on September 24, 2014 under Accident Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Their resolution that they are not liable is not itself a defense to tort (e.g. tree-branch-on-car) liability. However, a different judge may view the matter of maintenance differently and conclude that even if they can't show tree maintenance, unless they had some reason to know (or that they should have known) that this tree or branch was a threat (e.g. that someone had called in a complaint; or a different branch had recently fallen from tree, or from a nearby one so that they would have checked out this tree while investigating the other problem), that they would not be liable. You need to be prepared that you may have an adverse outcome.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.