Who is liable for damages if a tree, or portion of same, falls across property lines causing property damages or personal injury?

The tree is possibly dead or dying due to age and recent “natural” environmental stress, (there has been a significant number of coniferous trees dying in the midwest recently).

Asked on December 2, 2011 under Personal Injury, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The issue is one of fault, which is based in cases like this typically based on negligence, or unreasonable carelessness. While someone is not at fault, generally, if a perfectly healthy tree falls (e.g. due to abnormally high winds), if someone knows (or reasonably should know) that his or her tree is "possibly dead or dying due to age and recent 'natural' environmental stress" and does nothing (i.e. does not cut down the tree, or at least cut back large dead branches), then he or she would be negligent, or unreasonably careless, and would most likely be liable for any injury or damages.


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