Injured by a Tree? You Could Have a Personal Injury Claim
Property owners who fail to maintain their trees can end up liable for injuries
Sometimes people tend to think of trees as just part of nature and therefore assume that any injury caused by a tree falls into the category of “acts of God”. While it is certainly true that trees add a great deal of natural beauty to a property, when used as landscaping on public or private property they leave the realm of what is natural and become the responsibility of the property owner.
If you are injured by such a tree, you can and should meet with an experienced personal injury attorney such as Fernando D. Vargas to find out whether you have a case for compensation.
Responsibility of the Property Owner
California law does require property owners to maintain their trees—and other aspects of their property—so as to avoid causing injury to others. Specifically, the law requires that “reasonable care” be used to keep the property in “reasonably safe” condition. When it comes to tree maintenance, this is generally understood to mean that property owners need to act quickly to remove dead, rotten, or fallen material from their trees, as well as keep the trees properly trimmed. If a landscaping company has been entrusted with this duty, they typically become responsible for any injuries that may result from a failure to properly maintain the trees.
It is also important to note that when a tree injury occurs, you need to target the owner of the tree, which may not necessarily be the owner of the property where you were injured. Whoever owns the land where the tree trunk stands owns the tree, and would be responsible for injuries caused by branches overhanging or roots protruding into a neighboring property. When the trunk stands on a property line, liability for injuries would be split between the two property owners.
Examples of Tree Accident Injuries
Trees may cause injury in a variety of ways. Here are a few of the most common examples:
- A heavy tree limb might fall on a person causing head injury or fractures
- A tree could fall across a street and cause a car accident
- Improperly trimmed trees or bushes may obstruct visibility at an intersection and cause a car accident
- A downed tree or limb might fall on power lines and create a risk of an electrocution injury
- Tree roots might cause a sidewalk or curb to buckle, resulting in a trip and fall injury
Skillful Research Is a Must
In order to successfully secure compensation for an injury caused by a tree, it is essential to prove that there was a defect with the tree that the property owner should have known about. This typically requires skillful research on the part of an attorney such as Fernando D. Vargas. Tree trimming records may need to be accessed and investigated and the services of an expert witness such as an arborist may also be required.