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Who May be Liable for Damage from a Fallen Tree?

The NYC Parks Department reports that damaged trees include trees with limbs that are cracked, a trunk that is split, a uprooted tree or leaning tree, and a tree that is alive but in poor condition. Many different variables can contribute to a tree becoming weak and damaged. For example, damage to a tree can happen as a result of inclement weather and severe storms. In addition, insects, such as the Emerald Ash Borer , can also destroy trees and damage limbs.

Falling tree limbs can be relatively common especially during a severe storm or wind event. Property owners cannot generally be held liable if a tree branch or even a tree falls from a healthy tree due to an event out of human control—this is termed an Act of God occurrence. However, if a tree is damaged or unhealthy, it poses a threat to innocent individuals. A property owner is to blame where the owner knew or should have known of the dangerous condition of the tree, but did not act to prevent harm.

If any property owner, whether a private land owner or a municipal agency, fails in their responsibility to handle a damaged or sick tree, they can be held liable for damage that resulted from that tree. For example, a runner in Central Park injured by a fallen tree limb may hold the City of New York liable for failing to maintain the trees in Central Park. Or, for instance, if a neighbor has warned the property owner that a tree on their property is dying, yet the owner decides to do nothing about it, if that tree causes injury then the property owner may be held liable.

Tree maintenance includes regularly inspecting one’s property, including trees, for damage and disease. Furthermore, if there is any concern that a tree may be sick or damaged the owner should hire a professional for an opinion on how to handle the situation safely.

Click here to read about our firm’s groundbreaking fallen tree limb case, featured in a three-day article in the New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/14/nyregion/in-new-york-neglected-trees-prove-deadly.html?ref=nyregion

If you or someone you love was injured by a falling tree or branch, they need an experienced personal injury attorney, who has successfully fought on behalf of tree limb victims. Contact the attorneys at Greenberg Law P.C. today to learn more about how we can help pursue your claim.

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