What happens if your property is damaged by a neighbour’s tree?
After last year’s ice storm we had a lot of people asking us if they could file a claim for property damage caused by their neighbour’s tree. This can be a contentious issue that has been known to cause bitter disputes between neighbours.
If you think your neighbour’s tree is a potential threat to your property, you should immediately speak with them about your concerns. Recommend they hire a certified arborist to inspect the tree for rot or illness, and remember to always document these conversations. If you find yourself in court, these records will assist you with your case.
Immediately after damage has occurred, you should file a claim with your home or auto insurer, as most good insurance policies cover any damage that may result from a fallen tree or limb. If you receive a full settlement you have no basis to make a claim against your neighbour. If your insurer will not pay your claim, then you may have a case against your neighbour, because any tree on their property is their responsibility.
For your claim to be a success you must be able to prove negligence on your neighbour’s behalf. Any rot or damage that you have noticed should always be documented and presented to your neighbour. It is their responsibility to have their tree examined by a professional for weaknesses, rot and overall health. If the tree has been recently inspected and was deemed healthy and structurally sound, the event may be considered an accident. In this case the owner may only be responsible for the cost of removing the tree from your property, but not for the damages inflicted, as it is considered and Act of God beyond their control.
Municipal Tree Damage
If a city owned tree damages your property and your insurance does not cover the damages, you can make a claim against the city, but that is often more difficult than making claim against an individual. With a city you must be able to prove gross negligence on their part. If you repeatedly called them regarding a suspect tree they failed to follow up, you may have a case of gross negligence. Again, be sure to document any efforts you made to have the tree professionally examined.
Because trees are living organisms and not man made structures, fault and negligence can be difficult to prove. This can be even more difficult if a tree fails during a violent storm. The best advice is to have a good home insurance policy and to express any concerns you may have with your neighbour or the city, before an incident occurs.
If you have sustained property damage from a neighbour’s tree and your insurance does not cover the damages, call us for a free consultation.
Or alternatively fill out our contact form and have someone contact you free of charge to discuss your situation