Falling trees or tree limbs have sadly resulted in severe debilitating injuries and even death. An injured party has the right to seek compensation for their damages, pain and suffering, wage loss, future wage loss, necessary and reasonable medical expenses, anticipated future expenses, mental anguish and past or future impairment of ability to enjoy life. Compensation can be collected from the responsible party. However, from time to time, the party we believe to be responsible for the claim may deny liability of the damages caused by the falling-tree stating the fallen tree was an ‘Act of God.’
The definition of an Act of God varies. Court rulings clarify the legal use of this argument. For the most part, an Act of God defense must demonstrate that the circumstance was so abnormal and unusual in nature that no human assistance or human influence would have changed the event. An Act of God defense must demonstrate that the falling tree could not have been prevented by ordinary human foresight.
An Act of God defense in regards to falling-tree or limb cases may be alleged by the defendant (the responsible party) in severe weather related conditions such as a hurricane or tornado. In such cases, they may prevail.
The Act of God defense may also be alleged in weather related conditions such as lightning, storms or wind squalls. The facts of these cases involving the condition of the tree will be crucial in determining liability.
In cases with weather complications, it must be proven that the fallen tree is determined to have been decayed, rotted or otherwise unsafe prior to the weather related incident. If the court has evidence of this than the court may deem the fallen tree as being ‘defective’ or ‘dangerous’ irregardless of the weather. This would result in a positive ruling for the injured person. If the defect in the tree is determined to exist before the weather related incident than the weather related “Act of God” claim may be considered irrelevant to the court.
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento personal injury attorney, practicing for more than 30 years. If you need assistance in pursuing a claim due to injures or death from a fallen tree or tree limb, I would be happy to review your case and represent you in your claim.
I have handled many injury related falling tree claims and understand the complexities involved in these types of cases. Please contact me via phone (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400. To learn more about how my past clients feel about their experience with our office, you can see what people are saying about my office on Yelp, Google and Avvo.
Photo Attribution: Catalin.Fatu at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons