When a tree falls in the city...

Note: This did *not* happen to me or the oft credited "friend of mine". The subject came up during a BS session this morning and I said I'd post the question here.
********************************************************** In an suburban location, a tree on one property owner's lot blows down during a typical windsorm and falls into an adjacent lot owned by a second party.
Who is responsible for the cleanup and repair of any damage to the second party's property?
Our group got stuck over the question of whether the answer will be different depending upon whether the tree was healthy, sick, or dead.
Most of us thought that if the tree was healthy the event was "an act of G-d" and both parties (or their insurers) had to take care of their own problems. But, if the tree was obviously sick or dead before it fell, the party on whose property it stood should have noticed that condition and taken steps to prevent what happened, whether or not the other owner gave him notice about it.
One guy said, "Healthy trees don't blow down, unless there's a hurricane or tornado." Most of us agreed with that.
Jeff
-- Jeff Wisnia (W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)
"If you can keep smiling when things go wrong, you've thought of someone to place the blame on."
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Hi Jeff,
This happened to me a while back and my insurance company handled the coverage. I'm assuming as always, there will be circumstances where this may vary, such as if the neighbor had knowledge that the tree was unsafe, but I believe it is the normal case. Even in such a case, your insurance may handle the coverage and then go after the neighbor.
As for knowing that a tree might or might not be 'healthy', the branch that blew out of my neighbors tree during a fairly typical mid-west thunderstorm, hardly a tornado or hurricane, seemed pretty healthy to me. No dead wood, fully covered in nice green leaves, etc. So, I didn't see any reason my neighbor would have suspected it was at risk.
Mark

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That sometimes becomes a sticky problem. My neighbor had 3 trees fall across his fence from 2 different adjoining properties on the same day. All 3 trees were dead. The insurance company for one owner paid, no questions ask, because the owner could see the dead tree every time he went out his door. The other insurance company didn't pay because the owner had not been notified of the dead trees. That owners trees could only be seen from the rear yard of my neighbor unless the owner had walked down into the woods in back of his property and happen to look up at the right time. My neighbor was advised by his attorney that he would have less than 25% chance of winning a settlement in court, so he didn't sue for the damage.
For that reason, anytime I see a sick or dead tree on a neighbor's property that can reach my property if it should fall my way (6 in all), they get a registered letter, return receipt requested, notifying them of the hazard. So far, the trees have come down at the owners expense within a couple of weeks of getting the notice. We are in an area that has lots of pine trees that the pine beetles are killing in large numbers.
Tom J
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That probably varies by State. I was waiting to testify in a criminal matter and burned the time watching the civil division proceedings. They had a case of his tree on my fence and shed come up and the judge threw it out without allowing it to trial. He also tongue lashed the plaintiffs attorney saying that in the future when he had such a case brought to him he should instruct his plaintiff that God must have decided that he needed the firewood more then his neighbor needed the tree. I don't know if that was good law or just an ornery judge but it sure was entertaining. -- Tom
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