Who Is Responsible for Fallen Tree Removal?

Published on June 6, 2023

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Every property owner should understand their responsibility regarding fallen tree removal. First, you want to ensure you’re prepared for the expense. Second, you don’t want to rush to remove a fallen tree for which you’re not responsible!

Attorneys are the best source of information regarding a property owner’s legal responsibilities. However, you might note some general guidelines about tree removal and other such services. This information can help you know when to prepare for fallen tree removal and when it’s not your responsibility.

who is responsible for a fallen tree

Who is Responsible for Fallen Tree Removal on Private Property?

First, note that these are just general guidelines about fallen trees, not legal advice. Second, remember that laws vary from one area to another. State laws often dictate a property owner’s responsibility and liability. Also, consider HOA rules covering tree care for your property.

Above all, physical safety is the most important consideration for fallen trees! Don’t risk injury by cutting fallen trees or overhanging branches with chainsaws and other heavy equipment. Instead, call a professional tree services contractor for any large-scale trimming and removal you need to have done.

Was the tree dead or alive?

In some areas, the tree’s condition when it falls affects a property owner’s liability. Take Florida as an example. If a dead tree on your property falls onto a neighboring property, you are typically responsible for damages. However, if the tree is alive when it falls, the neighbor is usually responsible for damage to their property.

Why would a state write its laws this way? One reason is to address damage from inclement weather. Imagine a storm coming through your neighborhood, and a branch falls onto your car, scratching the paint. How could you track down where that branch originated and ask the property owner to pay for that damage?

In the same way, imagine being a property owner during stormy weather. How could you take responsibility for every branch or fallen twig that lands on the neighboring property?

Lastly, remember that property insurance typically covers storm damage to your home, fence, garage, etc. This includes a live tree or branches from a live tree falling onto your property. Consequently, laws usually consider whether a tree was alive or dead when it fell.

Who is responsible when a dead tree falls onto someone’s property?

Most laws dictate that property owners should take reasonable steps to ensure a safe property. This includes trimming or removing dead or other dangerous trees and branches. In turn, a tree owner is typically responsible for damage caused by a dead, damaged, or diseased tree.

Also, note that local laws usually allow a property owner to trim branches encroaching on their property. In other words, you can generally cut down any branch hanging over your property line. This helps avoid damage from falling branches.

However, note that this applies to branches crossing property lines only! In other words, you can usually trim only the part of a branch that extends over your property boundary. You cannot simply demand that a neighbor remove the tree altogether. For more information about your rights, consult a property attorney.

disposing of a fallen tree

When to Call for Fallen Tree Removal and What to Do Next

If you need fallen tree removal on your property, note who to call and what to do next:

  • First, consider safety and call your local power company if you notice downed lines.
  • Second, take pictures of damaged property from every possible angle. If necessary, you can use these pictures when claiming with your insurance provider.
  • Next, call your insurance provider and report the incident. If no one answers, leave a voicemail with your agent. You can use that phone call to prove you reported the incident promptly.
  • Cut the tree into manageable pieces if you can do so safely.
  • Check with your city about how to leave those with your everyday trash. For instance, some towns might require you to put lawn waste in a special bin.
  • Don’t assume that you can use those pieces for firewood. Some tree species don’t burn very easily. Also, infestation, wood rot, and other issues can mean a very unpleasant fire!

If you cannot manage tree removal safely, it’s time to call a professional. A tree removal company quickly cuts larger trees into manageable pieces.

Also, professional companies have access to woodchippers and other means of disposal. Their price is worth the investment if it means safe removal and clean property.

Preventing Fallen Trees on Your Property

The best way to deal with needed fallen tree removal is to avoid this issue in the first place! There are a few ways you can reduce the risk of fallen trees on your property or a neighboring property:

  • Schedule regular tree pruning when needed. A tree services company can cut back overgrown branches and hang over fences and other structures. Cutting overly heavy branches also eliminates the risk of them falling simply due to their weight!
  • Have an arborist check a tree at the first sign of disease, decay, rot, or other issues. In many cases, you can save that tree if you intervene quickly. In turn, you reduce the risk of the tree falling unexpectedly.
  • Call for tree services for leaning trees as well! A tree services contractor might recommend bracing or cabling if the tree is salvageable. If not, you can schedule tree removal before it falls.

Lastly, remember that regular inspections and trimming ensure tree health. An arborist can recommend better soil irrigation, disease treatment, etc. Your trees will grow strong and healthy, and you’ll reduce the risk of them falling unexpectedly.

Springfield Tree Trimming & Removal Service is happy to provide this information about fallen tree removal responsibilities. Hopefully, you found it helpful, but remember to speak to an attorney for precise legal advice. In the meantime, call our Springfield tree removal contractors if you’re in the area and need a FREE quote. We offer trimming, pruning, full removal, stump grinding, and land clearing. We’re fully licensed and insured, so call us for more information today.


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