When a tree falls, who pays for damages? - AmericaNowNews.com

When a tree falls, who pays for damages?

If a neighbor's tree falls onto your home during a storm and causes damage, who pays for it?  It's a question one couple was asking after a recent storm.

Eliza Simmons and Samuel James say that both their home and storage shed were damaged when a huge tree in their neighbor's yard came crashing onto their property during a thunderstorm. James says he immediately notified his neighbor about the damage.

"She said there was nothing she could do, so I left it at that," he recalls. 

To make matters worse, the couple has been without homeowners insurance for more than a year. 

"We're on a fixed income," James says. "We just don't have the money."

Downed trees are a common occurrence after a severe storm.  According to Barry Wilson at Mid-South Insurance, if a healthy tree that does not appear to be a danger falls, the person who sustains the damage must pay for it.

"You didn't knock the tree over," he explains. "It's an act of nature; therefore, you are not liable for the damage."
However, Wilson says there are instances where a property owner can be held responsible for damage done to a neighbor's property.

"If you're the property owner and you have not removed a dead, dying tree and it blows over - then you have some negligence on your part," he says. "Then you end up with the possibility that you're responsible for damage to your neighbor's property."
Wilson advises anyone who sees a tree that may be in danger of falling to take photos and notify the property owner immediately.  This will help in the event that a tree does fall and damage any  property.
"When you end up in court, you'll have some kind of proof," he concludes.

Copyright 2011 America Now. All rights reserved.

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