Who is liable to replace my yard after a neighbors tree roots ripped it out when it blew over into there yard.

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Who is liable to replace my yard after a neighbors tree roots ripped it out when it blew over into there yard.

My neighbors tree ,in his yard, blew over into his yard during a wind storm this past spring. When the tree blew over, the roots took out his rock wall between his yard and mine. When the rock wall collapsed some of the soil in my yard when with it. Now I have a hole in my yard where the dirt was. Is the neighbor responsible to rebuild his wall and put back the soil behind it which is in my yard? The rock wall was on his side of the property line.

Asked on July 29, 2019 under Real Estate Law, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

1) If the wall was his, he is under NO obligation to rebuild  or repair it: he decides what walls or fences he wants on his property and can leave a damaged one in place.
2) He would only be liable (responsible) for the damage to your yard if the tree was obviously sick, dying, or dead and so at an enhanced risk of falling but he did nothing about it prior to it falling: ignoring an obvious risk or threat is negligent or careless, and that would make him liable. But if it was a seemingly healthy tree that just fell victim to a windstorm, he had no reason to take action ahead of time about the tree (e.g. cut it down) and so is not at fault. Not being at fault, he would not be liable.
 


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