Hurricane Irma and trees. Well, we’re getting calls about trees that have fallen, either that your tree has fallen on your neighbor’s property, or your neighbor’s tree has fallen on your property, and the question is: who’s responsible for the damage, or the cleanup of the debris of a tree that’s fallen on your property?
Well, the answer is, is that you are responsible for taking care of the cleanup, as far as a tree falling on your property, whether it’s your tree, or your neighbor’s tree, since it is caused by an act of God. Your neighbor is not negligent as a result of hurricane Irma, or possibly hurricane Marie, or any other hurricane or natural disaster coming through, just a small tornado or any other storms that comes through. The damage is caused as a result of an act of nature, or an act of God, and therefore they are not negligent and not responsible for the damage that the tree has caused to your property, and you’re not responsible for any damage that your tree fell on your neighbor’s property.
So, the unfortunate part of it is, is if the tree falls on your property, or even hangs over your property line, looks like it’s about to fall on some of your property, well, you are stuck with having to clean the thing up, particularly with these giant oak trees that can run into thousands of dollars with tree surgeons and hauling out great big oak trees, and having to use certain care so it doesn’t damage any more property. So the cleanup of debris is a particular problem, but your neighbor is not liable for it.
Now, if the tree falls on your house, or damages your property, well then what? Well, you need to call your insurance company, and unfortunately this is gonna be under your policy, most of them have a hurricane deductible of anywhere from three to five … Well, depending on, look at your policy, and that there’s a deductible before they would pick up the damage. So, unless it’s catastrophic your deductible is probably gonna be more than what it’s gonna cost to fix the damage or to remove the tree, depending on the extent of the damage.
There is one exception to the tree falling on your property, your neighbor’s tree; that is if he was negligent, as far ar maintaining the tree. If it was a rotted tree, it’s been sitting there, and you talked to him about it or warned him about it, and said he needs to take care of it, and then if he was negligent and maintained the tree, well then you could possibly have some cause of action against him for these damages.
I have been contacted in the past about a rotted tree on the neighbor’s property and the concern, and I suggested to the person who contacted me that they need to send a letter notifying the neighbor that he would be liable or responsible if that rotted tree fell or caused damaged to your property. So that’s the exception to the not being liable if it’s an act of God; if the neighbor was negligent or you put him on notice that he needed to attend to the matter.
Also, a lot of times, not with hurricanes necessarily but maybe a result of a leaning tree, is that you have the right to trim trees, vertical, if they hang over your property line, where you have the right to trim the tree as of whatever is hanging over your property line. But hopefully you didn’t have too much damage, and unfortunately the cost of removing some of these huge oak trees is very expensive, but you’re probably not going to be able to hold your neighbor responsible, since it was an act of God.
So hopefully you’re safe. And if you have any questions, I don’t purport to be an insurance expert, but that’s just a little quip as far as trees and hurricane Irma, and fortunately we dodged hurricane Marie it looks like. My phone number’s 727-847-2288.