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Suing neighbors over fallen trees can be possible

On Behalf of | Jul 2, 2024 | Litigation, Real Estate Law

Trees often enhance a property’s charm and value. Still, it may come as a surprise to know that they are also among the most common causes of neighbor disputes.

Homeowners are generally responsible for tree maintenance in California. This means your neighbor must ensure their trees are healthy and pose no danger to surrounding properties. So, like many legal issues, suing your neighbor over damages caused by a fallen tree depends on the circumstances.

Negligence is a key factor

If a fallen tree from your neighbor’s property damages your car, house or injures you, you might have grounds for a lawsuit. Issues to consider include:

  • The fallen tree is definitively identified as belonging to your neighbor.
  • Your neighbor was negligent, including failing to remove dead or diseased branches, failing to properly trim an overgrown tree or ignoring signs of decay.
  • Evidence of the damages caused by the fallen tree through repair bills, photos, witness statements and other details.

California recognizes the “act of God,” a concept referring to unforeseeable natural events beyond human control. Holding a neighbor liable may be unlikely if a healthy tree falls because of a sudden and severe storm.

Homeowners’ insurance typically cover repair costs from fallen trees. Still, if you notify your neighbor about the hazardous condition of the tree before it fell, courts may consider this a factor when you pursue litigation.

When neighbor talks fail

Neighbors may attempt for a negotiation to resolve the issue. This can solve the problem if they are willing to address the damages. When discussion fails, consulting with a lawyer specializing in property damage can help increase your chances for a positive outcome.