If we own a rental property which has a palm tree on it, what is our liability if the neighbor claimed that 1 of the palm branches fell and caused damage to their car?

Are we liable for damages?

Asked on July 30, 2015 under Real Estate Law, California


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

In most states, you would only be responsible for the damage if you were in some way careless or negligent regarding the overhanging limb; this means that there was reason for you to think that the branch posed a threat. So, for example, if the tree/limb was obviously diseased or dying and you took no steps to remove them. Then you would be liable because that's what would be expected of the average reasonable person. If, on the other hand, there was no reason to think the branch posed any sort of risk and it's falling was just an "act of god", then you would most likely not be financially responsible. In that event, your neighbor's homeowner's insurance would take care of the loss (although they ask you to pay for their deductible but it's up to you as to what you want to do).

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.