Tree Injury Attorney
As a California tree injury attorney, I know that trees can be beautiful and provide shade but, if not properly trimmed and maintained, they can be deadly. It only takes a split second for a heavy trunk, limb or branch to come crashing down on an unsuspecting bystander who may be under the tree as a pedestrian, getting into their vehicle on the street, in a park or other recreational setting and cause serious injury or death.California Law on Legal Liability for Personal Injury Caused by Trees
California Civil Code Sections 833 and 834 provide that the legal owner of a tree is the person or entity whose property houses the trunk of the tree, either in whole or in part:
833. Trees whose trunks stand wholly upon the land of one owner belong exclusively to him, although their roots grow into the land of another.
834. Trees whose trunks stand partly on the land of two or more coterminous owners, belong to them in common.
This provides the property owner with a legal duty to maintain the trees in a safe and reasonable manner. If they fail to do so, this can be deemed negligence and may provide for civil money damages to the victim injured or killed by such neglect. In fact, the laws of the State of California clearly provide that a property owner has the following duties with respect to all portions of their property and the foliage contained on it:
A person who [owns/leases/occupies/controls] property is negligent if he or she fails to use reasonable care to keep the property in a reasonably safe condition. A person who [owns/leases/occupies/ controls] property must use reasonable care to discover any unsafe conditions and to repair, replace, or give adequate warning of anything that could be reasonably expected to harm others.
This places a legal responsibility on those who either own or control public or private land to inspect trees and provide proper maintenance such as trimming or even cutting down dead or rotten wooded areas if they would pose a risk of harm to others. In addition to the property owners, persons or businesses in charge of maintaining the landscape of the property may also be found liable if they failed to act competently in landscaping the grounds under a duty provided by their contract of employment with the landowner.Common Examples of Injuries or Death Caused by Timber and Other Foliage
- Heavy limbs or branches falling on individuals causing head trauma, paralysis or fatality
- Trees falling in roadways causing motor vehicles to crash
- Children or adults falling out of rotten or dead trees when trunks or branches crumble
- Falling branches hitting power lines and creating risk of electrical shock
- Foliage that is allowed to grow in and around roadways or sidewalks causing obstructions to visibility and mobility of vehicles and pedestrians
- Tree roots that uproot sidewalk and other walkways causing tripping hazards
In order to prove liability on the part of the property owner for these claims, it must be shown that the person who owned or controlled the property either knew or should have known that the trees created a dangerous condition. Oftentimes, this requires investigation into many factors including how and when the tree in question was trimmed last, whether rot had set into the plant, the legal ownership of the land in which the trunk of the tree lies and many other issues. It may also be necessary to retain the services of experts such as arborists, property managers or other specialists. It is always best to retain a lawyer who is familiar with these types of claims and with the laws of the State of California with respect to property dangers. Call our toll free California tree accident and injury helpline at 866-966-5240!