Who is responsible when tree damages neighbor's home?


Attorney Tom Olsen: The home owner knew that the branch was rotten, did not do anything about it, but the neighbor did not put the home owner on notice. The branch falls down, the branch damages the neighbor’s car and property. Is the home owner going to be responsible for it even though the neighbor never put the home owner on notice that the branch was rotten?

Attorney Rob Solomon: Although putting somebody on notice of a rotten tree branch is not a requirement of the law, it’s a good idea.  If your neighbor’s tree fell on your house or car, you need to prove that the owner of the tree was negligent. One way of showing negligence is that you sent your neighbor written notice that this branch was hanging over your property and that it was rotten, but that’s not the only way that somebody could know that. They could have a conversation, it may be visible, may be obvious, he may have things falling from the tree. So, written notice is not an absolute requirement to show negligence; but it’s helpful to have it. 

Attorney Tom Olsen: So the neighbor would need to prove that the home owner knew or should have known that the branch was rotten; even though no notice was given.

Attorney Rob Solomon: That’s right. 

Attorney Tom Olsen: If the home owner testifies that he had no idea that the branch was rotten, he may win or may lose. 

Attorney Rob Solomon: He may. That’s why a notice would have been helpful but some things are obvious; maybe it would have been obvious.  

Attorney Tom Olsen: Hey Rob, I called you a tree guy by the way, because I remember one time we had a client whose neighbor came in and cut down our client’s tree and you actually sued over that and got our client’s damages. 

Attorney Rob Solomon: Yes, there is actually a way to measure the value of a tree by the type of tree and the circumference of the trunk.

Attorney Tom Olsen: What was the value of that tree? I forgot now. 

Attorney Rob Solomon: It was about $6000.