Falling Tree Branch Lawsuit
How Can I Sue For a Falling Tree Branch Injury?
When a person is injured by a falling tree branch, many different factors affect who, if anyone, will be held liable. It depends largely on whose property the injury took place, whether the tree was on public or private property, who was responsible for maintaining the tree, and whether or not the injured person was acting carelessly.
How Can I Hold Private Property Owners For My Falling Tree Branch Injury?
Property owners generally have a duty to make their property reasonably safe for people who are on the property lawfully. This would include ensuring that trees are properly maintained. The scope of this duty would depend partly on the type of property involved. A large and remote tract of heavily wooded land is different from a residential lot. With the former, the owner could not reasonably be expected to maintain the trees on the property, and to remove dead branches from them. However, on the former, which might only have 1 tree, it is far more reasonable to require the owner to undertake such maintenance.
If it can be shown that the property owner knew or should have known of the risk of falling tree branches, and failed to act on this fact, a person injured by a falling tree branch should be able to successfully sue the property owner for injuries.
What about Public Property?
If the tree is on public property, the issue is slightly more complicated. Governments enjoy what is known as “sovereign immunity.” This essentially means that states and municipalities cannot be sued unless they have consented to be sued. Most states have waived this immunity for their own negligence, or for the negligence of their agents, but damages are usually capped at relatively low dollar amounts.
If a private contractor was responsible for maintaining the trees on public property, anyone injured by a falling tree branch might be able to go after the contractor, rather than the government.
Are There Any Defenses To a Falling Tree Branch Lawsuit?
As mentioned previously, a lawsuit over an injury caused by a falling tree branch is a type of premise liability. As such, most arguments against a falling tree branch lawsuit will utilize the same points as a premise liability defense:
- Plaintiff (party bringing suit) contributed to his or her own injury, such as by climbing the tree.
- Defendant met the reasonable standard of care. In other words, the owner of the tree cannot be held responsible for negligence if a reasonable person would have been the same error. No reasonable person can be expected to take down an old tree ten minutes after a severe storm.
- Defendant is not responsible for the property in which the injury occurred. Although the tree is right outside the store, the sidewalk on which the tree is located is owned by the city.
Do I Need a Lawyer For My Falling Tree Branch Injury?
If you or a loved one has been injured by a falling tree branch, you should speak to a personal injury attorney immediately to learn more about preserving your rights and remedies.
Consult a Lawyer - Present Your Case Now!
Last Modified: 06-05-2012 02:59 PM PDT
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