My Neighbor’s Tree Hit My House: Are They Liable?Posted March 19, 2016
Unfortunately, severe weather often results in trees and large shrubs falling over or losing branches, which can cause damage to a neighbor’s property. The harm caused by falling trees can be extensive and may require hours of labor and expensive materials to repair. Fortunately, insurance companies usually take care of the cost of any property damage.
In Oklahoma, a tree belongs to the person upon whose property the trunk stands, regardless of whether the roots grow into the land of another. When the trunk stands partly on the land of two or more adjacent property owners, however, the tree belongs to both parties in common, and so both share the responsibility of maintaining it.
If a property owner’s tree falls onto another’s land, causing damage, the owner of the tree may be legally responsible for covering the costs of that damage. If the property owner has an insurance policy, however, the insurance may cover those costs.
Most homeowners insurance policies include coverage for tree damage caused by natural perils like high winds and storms. However, if a property owner can show that a neighbor was aware that the tree posed a hazard and did nothing to remedy the issue, he or she can hold the neighbor responsible for the costs of repair. Even in this instance, the insurer restores the policyholder’s property first and then pursues reimbursement from the neighbor and his or her insurance provider.
Evidence of previous complaints about the tree can be helpful in establishing a claim that the neighbor was negligent. For example, when a property owner notices an unsafe tree overhanging his or her property, he should write a letter to the neighbor that includes:
- A description of the problem, such as a dead, diseased, or leaning tree;
- Photographs of the tree; and
- A request for action.
If there is a claim of negligence, the property owner who sustained the damage must file a claim with the tree owner’s insurance provider. The claim should include proof of all costs related to repairs, clean-up, and replacements.
Contact Our Legal Team Today
Severe weather can cause extensive damage to a property owner’s yard and home, including crushed fences, roofs, chimneys, and the structure of a home itself. If a neighbor’s tree has fallen over and damaged your property, it is important that you contact an experienced property damage attorney who can help to ensure that you are reimbursed for the costs of repair or replacement. Please contact one of our experienced attorneys at the Bennett Law Firm, at 405-272-0303, for a free consultation.