Liability Laws for Trees Fallen on a Neighbor's Property

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Trees should add peace and beauty to your property, not arguments.
Trees should add peace and beauty to your property, not arguments. (Image: Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Nobody enjoys having a dispute with the next-door neighbor, especially one that can result in a lawsuit. Damages from a neighbor's fallen tree can create unwanted arguments, and these arguments can intensify if neither side understands the law.

Let's Be Reasonable

Negligence will play a factor in determining liability after a tree falls. If the tree owner ignores visible rot that might cause the tree to fall during a strong wind, she may be held liable for any damages caused by the fallen tree. If a well maintained tree falls due to an Act of God, such as a tornado, she will not be held liable.

Ownership Matters

Determining the owner of the tree will clarify who is liable in the event that it falls. Whichever side of the property line the trunk stands on establishes the rightful owner. Contact a land surveyor to determine the exact boundary line between two properties. The land surveyor can locate property line markers, usually iron pipes, embedded into the ground.

Protection

If you notice your neighbor's tree is in a dangerous condition, bring it to his attention. Some tree owners may not be aware of the problem until someone else points it out. Always remember that you have the legal right to trim branches that cross over into your yard back to the property line. Those hanging branches can cause property damage if they fall, and you do not need consent from the tree owner to trim them.

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