Property Owner Questions: Who is Responsible for Damage Caused by Fallen Trees?

Who is Responsible for Fallen Tree Damage

Are you a property owner and wondering if you might be responsible for any damage caused to a neighbor’s property if one of your trees falls during a hurricane? Living in a state like Louisiana that is prone to severe storms, we are no stranger to strong winds that often topple trees. But the answer to the question above is: It depends.

A tree owner is not responsible for the damage caused by trees felled by the winds of a hurricane unless the neighboring property owner can establish that the tree fell because of its poor condition that the tree owner knew or should have known existed. In most of the cases involving trees felled by hurricane-force winds, the neighboring property owner will have to make a claim against his homeowner’s insurance policy and not the tree owner. However, Louisiana law indicates that the tree owner is generally responsible for removing his felled tree from the neighboring property.

Louisiana Civil Code article 2317.1 states:  

The owner or custodian of the thing is answerable for damage occasioned by its ruin, vice, or defect, only upon a showing that he knew or, in the exercise of reasonable care, should have known of the ruin, vice or defect which caused the damage, that the damage could have been prevented by the exercise of reasonable care, and that he failed to exercise such reasonable care. 

Thus, to establish liability for damage caused by a defective thing (i.e., a fallen tree), the property owner must demonstrate that the tree owner should have known, in the exercise of reasonable care, of the defective tree that caused the damage, that the damage could have been prevented by the exercise of reasonable care, and that the tree owner failed to exercise such reasonable care.

If you have more questions about property ownership or are interested in learning more about our services, call TitlePlus today at (225) 709-3500.