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Tree Falling onto Adjoining Land

Corrective action has to be taken by an owner or possessor of property located in or adjacent to an urban or residential area having actual knowledge of defects affecting his or her trees.  If a landowner notices that a tree on his or her property is decayed and may fall damaging the property of an adjoining landowner, such a landowner has the duty to eliminate the danger even if the tree was naturally grown.

A homeowner may prevail in a cause of action against an adjoining landowner whose tree destroyed the homeowner’s home when the homeowner shows:

(1) that the diseased condition of the tree was a defect which presented an unreasonable risk of harm to others;

(2) that the adjoining landowner should have known about the rotted condition of the heartwood in the tree; and

(3) that the exercise of reasonable care could have prevented the destruction of the homeowner’s house.

It has to be understood that a property owner is not under the duty to remove healthy trees just for the reason that the wind might knock them down.  If damages are caused to adjoining property from negligence in felling a tree where the tree did not fall on the adjoining land, but in the street, disturbing utility service and causing plaster to crack in the adjoining property, the owner of the tree will be held liable.

The owner of the tree can evade from his or her liability if it can be shown that the tree fell due to extra ordinary force of nature termed as act of God.  In order to prove that the harm was caused by an act of God, there should be evidence of similar incidents or results of extraordinary force of nature in the neighborhood such as another uprooted and fallen oak tree, other smaller trees remain standing in the neighborhood when the landowner’s tree had broken at a point along its trunk, but its roots remained secured in the ground.

However, an act of God does not absolve the tree’s owner of responsibility for removing the fallen tree from a neighbors’ property.

Inside Tree Falling onto Adjoining Land