If my neighbor’s dead trees fall on my barbed wire fence, are they liable for damage?

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If my neighbor’s dead trees fall on my barbed wire fence, are they liable for damage?

Asked on February 16, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

They would be liable only if they had been negligent. Negligence is unreasonable carelessness, so the question is: were they careless? They may have been careless *if* they knew, or reasoanbly should have known, that the tree was dead and therefore posed a falling hazard. This generally requires either or both of 1) someone told them the tree was dead, so that the owner had actual knowledge; or 2) the tree was visibly ill or dead and located some place where the owner or his/her employees could readily see it, so it would be reasonable that they should have known. On the other hand, if they did not actually know the tree was dead and it was not in some way obvious that it was dead, they would have had no reason to have taken any action, and so would not be neligent (and therefore not liable) for failing to do so.


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