Watch out for that Tree: Personal Injury and Property Damage

Falling trees causing personal injury and property damage

Fallen Tree on roadIt has been an icy winter to say the least. Personal injury and property damage have been sustained due to icy trees falling on cars, houses and people. However, trees do not only fall in the winter and falling trees can cause personal injury and property damage at any point during the year. What responsibility do you, as a property owner, have if a tree has fallen onto a neighbor or a neighbor’s property causing personal or property damage? On the other hand, what avenues of recourse do you have as a personally injured person or a person who has sustained property damage, against your neighbor?

If your neighbor’s tree falls on your house, or your car, the following should be taken into account: Many times, a tree falling on your property will be covered by insurance. There are times, when this is not the case and therefore neighbors begin law suits for personal injury and property damage against other neighbors. A 1996 Ontario Superior Court Decision, ruled that a neighbor, whose tree fell onto Mr. and Mrs. Parent’s property causing damage to their home and snowmobile, was not responsible for the damage. The judge reasoned that growing a tree is a natural use of the land and the owner of that land is under no obligation to his or her neighbor with respect to what is growing on his or her land. The neighbor has a responsibility to protect him or herself from personal injury or property damage. However, if an owner knows of, or can plainly see, warning signs that the tree is, for instance, decaying, they must take steps to ensure the tree is not hazardous to others.

There is also a British Columbia Court of Appeal case that involves a tree falling onto a woman’s property after a wind storm. The owners of the tree were found responsible for the damage, because the neighbor had warned them about the condition of the tree, and despite that, they did nothing to avoid the hazard. Therefore, to avoid property damage, and at times personal injury, it is important for everyone involved to be responsible property owners.

If you sustain personal injury due to a tree falling on you and it is a fluke accident, do you have any means of compensation? In some cases, personal injury from a tree falling can even result in death, which was the case of a Port Colborne woman. She was driving by in her car this winter when a tree, due to natural phenomenon, fell upon her car, crushing it and causing her fatal injuries. Again, insurance routes are available to most. As well, if the tree was not owned by a civilian, the City (or Town) has responsibility to ensure the safety of their property-this is true of trees, and even pot holes. If these avenues are unable to be used, or if they have been exhausted, legal action may need to be pursued.

Know your legal options and if you have experienced personal injury, do no hesitate to contact our personal injury law firm to find out about your legal rights.

 

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