A fallen tree can be a terrifying experience. Even if nobody was harmed, the damage it causes can be in the thousands of dollars. Apart from a potentially deadly situation, a fallen tree can cause massive structural damage.
But who is responsible for a fallen tree’s removal? And if your neighbor has a tree that falls over onto your property and damages your house or even falls just in your yard, who is responsible?
You would think – being a good neighbor – if your tree falls onto someone else’s property that you would take care of it, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
The way that it works is, in short, the tree is cut and whatever is on your property is your responsibility. Similarly, whatever is on your neighbor’s property is their responsibility. Obviously, this can cause some very unpleasant conversations and friction with neighbors. And nobody enjoys having a dispute with the next-door neighbor, especially one that can result in a lawsuit.
Damages from a neighbor’s fallen tree can create unwanted arguments and these arguments can intensify if neither side understands the law.
However, the bottom line is that – when that tree falls, even though it’s not your tree, and even if that tree wasn’t on your property, but once it falls onto your property it is your responsibility.
Who Is Responsible When a Tree Falls?
It may come as a shock, but fallen tree removal is not as straight forward as you might think. The bottom line is that – when that tree falls, even though it’s not your tree – once it falls onto your property it is your responsibility.
The way that it works is, in short, the tree is cut and whatever is on your property is your responsibility. Similarly, whatever is on your neighbor’s property is their responsibility. And whichever side of the property line the trunk stands on establishes the rightful owner.
However, reasonable negligence will play a factor in determining liability after a tree falls should a dispute arise.
For example, if the tree owner ignores visible signs of rot that might cause the tree to fall during high wind, they may be held liable for any damages. On the other hand, if a well-maintained tree falls due to an “act of God”, such as a tornado, they will not be held liable.
A land surveyor can determine the exact boundary line between two properties as well as iron pipes embedded into the ground to work out who is responsible for which portion of tree removal.
How To Spot a Dangerous Tree
Anyone who loves gardening and the outdoors will be discouraged from removing any tree. But there are some situations where a tree should be cut down.
Identifying some of the problems that may occur may be a lot easier to identify than others. For example, bark abnormalities like deep cracks and holes are easy to observe. Dead branches and decay can also be identified when inspecting the tree. You can also check for leaf discoloration which may indicate a tree that’s in poor health. Dry branches riddled with holes may also indicate pests.
If you notice your neighbor’s trees in a dangerous condition, bring it to their attention. If they fail to act, you can take it a step further. If you are desperate, you could send a certified letter to your neighbor, essentially putting them on notice of possible negligence and liability claims from their insurance in the event of any damage that may occur.
However, in many cases, you will be advised to get in touch with a local arborist to inspect the tree as a whole, the ground under the tree, its trunk, as well as the canopy to make a final call.
How Much Does Fallen Tree Removal Cost?
Fallen tree removal costs will naturally require a specific type of labor. Obviously, the tree has already done the work, so this is still one of the least expensive ways to have a tree removed. On average, the cost of fallen tree removal can come in anywhere between $75 and $175. Additional charges may arise from necessary pruning as well as stump removal.