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BillC 06-11-2021 05:06 PM

Fallen tree -- need advice
 
We came home from work a little while ago to find that a dead tree has fallen from the park land behind our house into our back yard, smashing the fence and a tree inside our yard in the process.

My wife called the park service, and they basically told her to go pound sand. They claimed it was an Act of God, and that they aren't responsible for the damage or the cleanup. Which sounds like total BS to us.

Are they responsible for the damage caused by their trees, or can they hide behind this "Act of God" nonsense? I was always taught that if something of yours causes damage to someone else, you are responsible for it. Isn't that the case here?

Also, the park service came through the park last summer, taking down a number of trees (trunks and limbs still laying everywhere). My wife pointed out to them that there were/are several dead trees standing that weren't marked to be taken down, and this tree is one of those that she pointed out. Since they acknowledged the trees were dead but left them anyway, doesn't that make them responsible, at least through willful negligence?

Kk1340 06-11-2021 05:39 PM

As a arborist in Virginia, I believe that if you did not send them a certified letter about the tree in question, once it crosses the property line it becomes your tree. I know the live trees especially during storms that it becomes yours when it crosses property lines. Your case is tricky because you said your wife told guys working on park land about the tree . They could say they cut down some trees and the one that fell just died. Insurance would handle the fence and clean up but you would have to pay your deductible. This is in Virginia and am not sure about Maryland. Good luck

Vicegrip 06-11-2021 06:20 PM

I second the info on the law and trees. I have dealt with this both personally when the next door tree fell on my old falls church house and professionally on managed property.
For almost all conditions the cost of the clean up is yours. Your insurance should cover it (if it is worth filing a claim)

Exceptions to the laws exist but are rare and specific. As noted if the tree was professionally deemed a hazard and the land / tree owner legally notified they assume the liability. You can’t just say “That tree looks dangerous” and assign liability.

There are some other weaknesses in the laws who’s roots go back to King George but I would bet going after a government entity over a tree cleanup and fence repair might not have a good ROI.

Trak Ratt 06-11-2021 07:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kk1340 (Post 649566)
As a arborist in Virginia, I believe that if you did not send them a certified letter about the tree in question, once it crosses the property line it becomes your tree. I know the live trees especially during storms that it becomes yours when it crosses property lines. Your case is tricky because you said your wife told guys working on park land about the tree . They could say they cut down some trees and the one that fell just died. Insurance would handle the fence and clean up but you would have to pay your deductible. This is in Virginia and am not sure about Maryland. Good luck

X3

Vicegrip 06-11-2021 07:15 PM

Got me thinking. :) As said had a tree fall on the old house. Clipped off some of the extended eves of a non truss roof and bent up the railing on the front porch. The tree fell during hurricane Isabel and due to a landscaper cutting 100% of the roots right up to the trunk on the side away from my house. It was only a matter of time for it to fall. The neighbor ( named Isabel BTW) paid to have the tree brush chipped had removed out of good will. I bucked and cleaned up the rest for firewood. Insurance waved the deductible and paid out way too much IMO. Made a nice profit doing the work in house and had 2 big catered street parties of the type that were talked about 15 years later thanks to Isabel (and Isabel). ;)

Had a big white oak that 50/50 straddled the back prop line. It fell on the house behind me and fell hard. Split the top floor of a $750,000 house in two. Homeowner calls me screaming that I need to call mi insurance and get the tree removed!1!!!!1!1! Once she was out of breath I explained the law. She was not amused and I learned some new cuss words. The sad part is the house was a rental and the renters real nice folks, the owner not so much. Suffice to say I did not cover anything and the owner, or her lawyers, never contacted me again.
Talked the tree removal company to crane the trunk sections into my backyard. More firewood!

Patrick3000 06-11-2021 08:14 PM

Bill,

You are lucky the tree hit and damaged your fence. Your homeowners insurance will cover the tree removal and replacement of the fence. The insurance company will likely deprecate the reimbursement for the fence depending on how old the fence is and the material that the fence is made from. Do not clean up the area until after you have filed an insurance claim and they have inspected the damage. If the tree had fallen and caused no damage to your property the entire clean up would be on you. It all depends on where the tree lands as to who is the responsible party. The downside of filing an insurance claim is that your rate may increase and/or the insurance company could possibly drop you altogether if you have filed other claims.

Don’t ask how I know, good luck.

HoodPin 06-12-2021 09:54 AM

^^ X2

SRG 06-12-2021 10:17 AM

Had a neighbor complain about MY tree falling on HER fence.

I told her that I was not so arrogant as to think that I owned things like trees, they belonged to god and that one was god's gift to her.

cmartin 06-12-2021 10:47 AM

Sorry I'm not closer, I'm always looking for firewood.

Good luck with the fence

BillC 06-12-2021 12:36 PM

So I called the insurance company last night and filed a claim. They confirmed that the tree is our problem. So now we have to get quotes for fixing the fence, but that means waiting until Monday, since both the fence contractors and the claims adjuster won't be available until then. I'll probably just cut up the fallen wood myself, but not until I talk to the adjuster first.

Of course, the falling tree also did a number on the little tree that was planted just a couple of months ago -- tore a number of branches off it. So, we're going to have to see if the little tree makes it.


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