Boston Fallen Tree Injury Attorney
In most instances, having mature trees around one’s property is seen as a positive, with the beauty and privacy they provide proving desirable for many homebuyers. However, catastrophic damage caused by a fallen tree may suddenly overshadow any benefits previously offered. Fallen trees may cause damage to neighbors’ homes, nearby vehicles, or even individuals caught in the tree’s path. Here, our Boston fallen tree injury attorneys examine the legal implications of bodily injuries caused by fallen trees and answer a question essential to any tree-based personal injury case: When is a property owner liable for injuries caused by a tree on their property?Who is Liable For Fallen Tree Injuries?
To put it simply, a property owner may be liable for injuries caused by a tree on their property if the owner knew or should have known that the tree was at risk of falling . This means that the tree must have been in a condition that put the property owner “on notice” that it was likely to fall or break. A property owner may be placed on notice of this risk by a tree that is diseased, decayed, or otherwise weakened. In other words, if a property owner knows their tree is dangerous but does nothing to fix it, and that tree later injures someone, the property owner may be responsible for compensating the injured person.
By contrast, a property owner may not be held liable for personal injuries caused by a tree that was well-maintained and healthy before its fall. A property owner must maintain the trees on their property and ensure they are not at heightened risk of causing damage. Since a well-maintained and healthy tree is not especially likely to fall or break, such a tree does not notify its owner of any hazard, which means there is no heightened danger for the property owner to address. Because it would be unfair to hold a property owner liable for damage they could not have reasonably anticipated or prevented, courts are typically unwilling to find property owners responsible for injuries caused by a tree that was in good, safe condition prior to its fall.
It is also worth noting that a property owner is not the only potential source of compensation in a tree-based injury case – a third party responsible for maintaining a tree, such as a landscaping company, may also be responsible for any damage that tree causes . If such a third party exists, its liability will largely be determined by the condition of the offending tree prior to its fall, as with a property owner. This is the result of the same logic that limits homeowner liability; a party that has a duty to maintain a tree in safe condition has only failed this duty if it allows the tree to exist in an unsafe condition. Thus, a landscaper or other third party that takes on the duty of maintaining a tree may be liable for injuries it causes if it allowed the tree to remain a hazard.
This same standard applies regardless of what exactly caused a tree to fall or break apart . For example, if a tree falls during a severe storm, the property owner may be liable if the tree was decayed or diseased prior to the storm, but not if the tree was in good condition. One could anticipate that an old, weakened tree is at high risk of blowing over during a storm, and a property owner could thus be held liable for not mitigating this risk. However, that a strong, healthy tree would be blown over is not so predictable, and a property owner cannot be penalized for an outcome that is so out of their control. Incidents like this in which a tree falls without human error are often called “Acts of God,” implying that no person was truly at fault and that no party can justly be held liable.
Whether a property owner is liable for injuries caused by a tree on their property is best determined through a careful investigation into the surrounding circumstances, including the condition of the offending tree before the incident. At Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers, our premises liability attorneys have extensive experience navigating tree-based injury cases and can help you understand how the law applies to the specifics of your situation. Contact us today at (617) 777-7777 to learn more about your potential eligibility for compensation.