If a tree was downed due to a storm who is responsible for the damages?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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If a tree was downed due to a storm who is responsible for the damages?

I had a tree fall into my neighbor’s yard during a storm with 60 mph winds. The tree was solid. He doesn’t have insurance and wants me to pay. Who is responsible for the tree and damages?

Asked on April 11, 2019 under Real Estate Law, Iowa


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Your neighbor is responsible for paying for his own damage (or if he had insurance, he could have submited a claim to his own insurer). A homeowner is NOT resonsible for all damage done by trees from his property; he is only resposible if he was at fault in some way in causing or contributing to the fall and damage. So if the tree was visibly sick, ill, dying, dead, leaning as if ready to fall, etc. and he failed to take appropriate actions (having it trimmed or cut down), then he would be liable, since it is careless or negligent to not take reasonable steps to avoid a known threat. But if the tree was sound and was only knocked down by excessively high winds, that is not the homeowner's fault, he did nothing wrong, and is not liable.

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