When A Tree Falls, Who Is Responsible?

When A Tree Falls, Who Is Responsible?

by Jason Tallent

It is always best to prepare for the unexpected. When dealing with high winds, as we have, falling trees have become a more common concern when it comes to homeownership. If a tree falls from your property onto your neighbor’s garage, are you at fault, and should your insurance cover the damage? If a neighbor’s tree falls on your car, totaling it, does it fall under car insurance or a homeowner’s insurance policy? If the latter, which homeowner?

Let’s tackle this issue, so that you can be diligent in your efforts of doing the right thing to make sure you are not at fault. What happens when your tree falls down in the middle of a storm? It lands on your neighbor’s house, pool, or garage. The gut reaction of your neighbor would be to be upset, and think it is completely your fault. It’s not, unless you knew the tree was dead, or visibly decayed enough that it was in need of being taken down.

In the state of Tennessee there’s a vertical line that runs from your property line, straight up into the atmosphere. If a healthy tree is blown over during a storm, then that tree becomes your neighbor’s as soon as it crosses the property line. If you are worried about a neighbor’s tree falling onto your property, due to it being dead or in bad state, then you need to write them a letter stating that their tree is dead or in need of attention and that you are making them aware that you have noticed the issue. If they neglect to address the issues with the tree and it falls during a storm, then they will be responsible for the damage it causes.

Moral of the story, be sure your trees are in good shape, or be a kind neighbor and take them down.