As Tropical Storm Michael — once a Category 4 storm — continues on its rampage through Florida and the southeastern U.S., its strong winds and rains have toppled countless trees, leaving many to wonder: If a neighbor’s tree falls on your property, who is responsible?
Typically, once a downed tree has fallen into your yard due to “an act of God,” it becomes your responsibility, Orlando-based attorney Tom Olsen told Fox News.
“If a healthy tree comes down by act of God — lightning, hurricane, storm — each property owner is responsible for the damage to their own property,” Olsen said.
Olsen noted that some instances could be different, including if the property owner knew the tree was diseased or dead. In those cases, someone could officially inform their neighbor, typically by certified mail, that a tree was defective, and then they could be responsible for any damage it caused if a hurricane brought it down.
It’s also up to you to take care of a tree once it’s fallen onto your property in Georgia, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“Almost everyone is surprised when we tell them the way the law works is wherever the tree landed, that person is responsible for dealing with it regardless of where the tree came from,” Bob Delbridge, owner of 404-Cut-Tree, told the newspaper.
Corey Cargle, owner of Steve’s Tree and Landscape Service, encouraged people to take photos of the fallen tree and the damage.
“If it leaves your property and hits someone’s home, car or anything else, it’s off you. It becomes their tree,” Cargle told the Journal-Constitution. “A lot of people call us and say, hey, this tree fell from my neighbor’s house into our yard, and I want you to give us an estimate and we’ll give it to them. But it doesn’t work like that.”