Who is liable for tree limb that fell into a neighbor’s yard?

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Who is liable for tree limb that fell into a neighbor’s yard?

In a recent windstorm a tree in my yard broke out some large limbs that fell onto my fence and the neighbors back yard. My insurance company is claiming that under my policy they can only cover what hit the fence and landed in my yard. They won’t recognize my responsibility to clean-up the debris in the neighbors yard and will not consider it as part of my claim. Can that be legally true?

Asked on May 2, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Oregon

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Since this tree limb came down due to an "act of god" then you bear no liability; if on the other hand the tree was dead and you ignored the issue that would put in a position of legal responsiblity. Accordingly, your insurer's obligation is to pay you for your losses but not your neighbor's. Bottom line, you have no obligation to help your neighbor clean up the debris on their property.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You are not responsible for a tree limb that fell in your neighbor's yard, not unless you were at fault in causing it to fall there, such as by not cutting off or trimming an obviously dead or damaged limb which was just waiting to fall. Otherwise, if you did nothing wrong, you are not responsible for what a windstorm does to one of your trees. (No one is responsible: this is an act of nature.) Your insurer is correctly recognizing that: under the terms of the insurance policy you purchased, it has an obligation to pay for certain of your costs or losses, but it has no obligation to your neighbor, who did not buy your policy (you did).


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