Santa Cruz Man Killed in Fallen Tree Incident
One person was killed in a fallen tree incident in Santa Cruz on the afternoon of December 31, 2022. According to the California Department of Parks and Recreation, the accident happened at about 1:30 p.m. at Lighthouse Field State Beach. State Parks officials said the unidentified man was a 72-year-old Santa Cruz resident.
Details of the Deadly Freak Accident
State Parks First Responders received a 911 call about someone trapped underneath a 120-foot Cypress tree. First Responders, Santa Cruz Police Department, American Medical Response, and Santa Cruz Fire Department, arrived at the scene and extricated the man.
Despite being given medical treatment, the man died at the scene. Information about the person’s identity was not released pending notification of next kin. No other details about the incident were immediately available.
Tree Experienced Failure
According to California State Parks, the tree had experienced “failure.” It is unclear what caused the failure of the Cypress tree or how the man became trapped beneath it. The incident is currently under investigation. State Parks officials said tree failures are unpredictable and cannot be prevented. Due to the tragic accident, the park will be closed until further notice.
Falling Trees Can Injure or Kill
Throughout California, trees and tree limbs occasionally fall to the ground. This presents a hazard if anyone is standing or sitting below the tree. Severe or fatal injuries can occur when a tragic event like this happens.
Northern California cities have an increased risk of falling trees, given the state’s extensive urban forests and drought conditions. Trees become weaker and prone to breakage during an extremely dry winter. Add drought conditions with frequent winds, and the risk of falling trees and tree limbs becomes substantial.
Common Injuries in Tree Accidents
Some common injuries often seen in tree accident cases include the following:
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Fractured skull
- Broken clavicle
- Neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken ribs
- Internal bleeding
- Abrasions and lacerations
In many cases, tree accidents cause fatal injuries. The person is often hit in the head, neck, or upper body with a heavy limb traveling at high speed. If the person survives, severe head trauma and TBI can result in devastating life-long injury.
Duties of a Private Tree Owner
Private property owners are responsible for tree maintenance and must preserve the trees to ensure they don’t fall and hurt others. If the owner is aware of a tree’s dangerous condition and fails to maintain it, the owner will be liable for damages if the tree injures someone.
Liability may also apply to a property owner even if someone “should have known” that the tree was dangerous. Due to the complications involved in proving owner knowledge, it is crucial to retain an injury lawyer with experience litigating tree accident cases.
Potential Monetary Damages in Tree Accident Claims
If you have suffered injuries in a falling tree accident, you may be entitled to pursue compensation for your damages. Below are categories of financial damages that may be available for recovery in a tree accident case:
- Economic damages: medical expenses, wage loss, and physical therapy.
- Non-economic damages: emotional distress, diminished enjoyment of life, and pain and suffering.
- Loss of consortium: may be available to the spouse based on the negative impact on the marital relationship.
Fallen tree incidents are not an uncommon occurrence in California. The YouTube video below from NBC Bay Area news reports that three women were injured when an oak tree fell on them while hiking on a county park trail in Santa Clara County.
San Francisco Tree Accident Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith, a San Francisco tree accident attorney. Fallen tree accidents can cause serious injuries or deaths every year. If you or a family member has been hurt due to a tree accident in San Francisco or anywhere in Northern California, call our law office at (415) 805-7284 or (800) 404-5400 for free and friendly case advice. You can also contact us through our online form on AutoAccident.com.
Our experienced legal team has helped injured individuals receive maximum verdicts and settlements since 1982.
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