If my tree fell and hit my neighbor’s car, am I liable?

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If my tree fell and hit my neighbor’s car, am I liable?

Asked on September 18, 2014 under Real Estate Law, Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

The answer is, "it depends." Specifically, what it depends upon is whether you had any reason to know that the tree posed a particular threat--for example, was the tree visibily or obviously sick or dead? Was it leaning, so that it seemed like its roots were not holding? Had it been damaged, such as by a collision or lightning, or had its roots been damaged, such as by digging up the yard to put in pavers or walkway? Etc.

Liability in a case like this is based on fault. Fault is typically based on negligence, or unreasonable carelessness. If you had any reason to think that that the tree was a threat, but knowing of that threat, did not take action, that may have been negligent and could give rise to negligence.

On the other hand, if there was no reason to suspect a threat and a seemingly health tree feel (such as to due to high winds), you should not be liable.


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