Timber! Falling Tree Injuries
There have been two stories reporting falling tree injuries in the past two days. In both of the cases below, what caused the tree to fall in the first place is under investigation.
A Great Neck, New York woman, aged 20, got a rude awakening when a gigantic tree crashed into the room where she was sleeping and right into her bed on July 27, 2015. It took rescue workers almost three hours to unpin her from beneath the limbs of the monster tree. The tree weighed approximately 5,000 pounds! It appears the tree may have been rotting and decaying around its base. The woman was taken to the hospital with multiple trauma injuries and is in serious but stable condition.
Children from a summer program operated by Kidspace Children’s Museum in Pasadena had the scare of their lives as they sat in a meadow waiting for their folks to arrive to pick them up at the end of a fun day at camp. The first sign that something was out of the ordinary on July 28, 2015 was a loud cracking sound. Seconds later a pine tree measuring over 75-feet came crashing down on and around a group of children ranging in ages between five and nine years old. Children were screaming and running to avoid being seriously injured. Staff and witnesses heard and watched helplessly as the tree came down. Some even rushed to the scene to get the kids out as quickly as possible. In total, eight children received injuries. Two children received sustained critical injuries.
The Property Owner has a Duty to Inspect
If you have been injured by a falling tree or branch, you may be entitled to compensation whether it occurred on public or private property.
Under California Law, the property owner has a duty to inspect all trees on the property to determine how healthy or hazardous they are. If it is found to be hazardous, a property owner should remove hazardous branches or the entire tree if necessary.
If the property owner knew or should have known that the tree posed a hazard and did nothing about it, he will likely be liable for the injuries.
If the property owner knew nothing about a hazardous condition, the question is whether a reasonable homeowner with this type of tree, should have known if this type of tree was a hazard.
Let’s just say for example, a homeowner on an adjacent property to my Sacramento home knew his 5,000 pound tree was rotting at the base, but for whatever reason chose to do nothing about the situation. Later, same tree crashes through my home and into my master bedroom causing me major physical injuries as well as property damage and lost wages.
Another question is whether the tree was properly trimmed and otherwise maintained.
What Should I do?
Immediately contact a Sacramento Tree Injury Attorney who understands the complexities involved in these types of cases. You see, the sooner an attorney can get an expert to the scene of the accident the better my chances are at proving liability. After all, it is not your fault that your neighbor’s tree fell through your home. You have the right to be compensated for any and all damages.
An arborist is an expert that your attorney will utilize to investigate your injury claim. Their immediate inspection of the scene will many times strengthen a claim for damages. The arborist looks for evidence of a tree being improperly pruned, will report on the condition the tree was in prior to the fall, whether or not a tree is diseased, was an appropriate tree for the area that it was planted. The arborist will investigate whether or not the tree was properly planted, inspected and maintained. The arborist plays a key role in establishing if the property owner knew or did not know the tree posed a hazard.
There are some varieties of trees that are more dangerous than others due to their heavy-top growth and shallow roots. Even stable trees can become dangerous if they are pruned improperly. Inexperienced pruners can actually cause the tree to become structurally unsound. For example, some folks just lop off the top of a tree to get more sunlight onto their property or enhance their view. This is called tree topping. Other folks lop off the lower branches, leaving the top alone, and this causes the tree to become top heavy. This is called lollipopping.
John Muir is quoted as saying, “God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools.”
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Tree Injury Lawyer and 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 claims due to fallen trees and limbs and understand the complexities involved in these types of cases. For free, friendly advice, please contact me via phone (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400.
I am a member of Million Dollar Forum, an association of National personal injury lawyers who have multiple Million Dollar Verdicts and settlements.
Photo Attribution: By J.smith (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons