Can the county or property owner be held liable regarding fallen tree in the road?

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Can the county or property owner be held liable regarding fallen tree in the road?

My son was driving on a county road he came around a curve and there was a fallen tree all the way across the highway he couldn’t swerve to miss it and he ran into and over the tree. There was almost $4000 damage to the truck. The tree was about 15 feet off highway. There was no bad weather or wind the night that it happened. The police were called and report made. I am just wondering if county can be held liable for damages or the property owner.

Asked on October 10, 2018 under Accident Law, Mississippi

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

They can only be held liable if you can show fault in some way. Fault requires negligence, or carelessness regarding risks. IF the tree was obviously dead before it fell, so that it was only a matter of time, then a failure to remove it could be negligent and could make the property owner liable. Or if you can show the tree was across the road long enough, given the time of day and traffic conditions, etc. that *someone* would have phoned it in (or that someone did in fact phone it in) but the county (or whomever maintains that particular road), despite having enough time after becoming aware that the tree was down, failed to remove it, the county can be liable for its negligent failure to remove a hazard. As you can see, the common thread is knowledge and opportunity: you have to show that someone who was responsible for the tree and/or road knew of the risk and had a chance to take care of it, but failed. Without knowledge and opportunity to correct the issue, no one did anything wrong.


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