Many people enjoy the look of trees and the shade they produce; at least until the moment those trees topple over and damage their property. It’s a given that the person’s homeowner’s insurance policy will typically cover the damage to the individual’s property if he or she owns the tree that fell. But what happens when the tree is owned by a neighbor? In this situation, it’s a good idea to speak to a real estate lawyer in Chicago office about when the neighbor may be liable for paying for the damage.
The Cause of the Tree Falling Determines Liability
Whether or not the neighbor is liable for paying for damages caused by the tree falling onto another’s property will depend on what caused the tree to fall. A person is not liable if the tree fell over because of a natural disaster or an act of god.
For instance, the person would not be liable for damages if the tree split in half and fell on a neighbor’s shed after being struck by lightning. In this case, the person who owns the shed would have to file a claim with his or her insurance company for the repair or replacement of the structure.
However, the person would be liable if the tree fell over because of disease or negligence on the individual’s part. For example, the person is cutting down the tree but misjudged where it would fall and it fell on the neighbor’s house. The individual who cut the tree would be responsible for paying for the damages.
Taking the Case to Court
Litigating this type of case can be surprisingly complex at times. This is because a person could still be held liable for damages even if a natural phenomenon was involved in the tree toppling over or one of its branches fall off.
If the tree was diseased or damaged in a way prior to the natural disaster or act of god that increased the risk it would fall over, then the owner of the tree may be held partially responsible for the outcome. However, it would be incumbent upon the plaintiff to prove this was the case, which may require hiring experts to testify in court.
For more information about suing someone over damage caused by a falling tree, contact a real estate lawyer in Chicago at Starr, Bejgiert, Zink, & Rowells.
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