Who is Liable When a Tree Falls?

April 30th, 2019

Many homes have one or more types of trees on their property. Trees provide shade and complement landscaping nicely. However, they can also cause major disputes when they fall. Whether the tree falls due to improper maintenance, ill-health, or because of a storm, a property owner is often left to wonder if he or she is legally liable. Most people assume that they are legally liable if the tree was rooted on their property. However, this may not always be true.


When You Are Not Liable for the Damages

When a tree, or a part of the tree, falls onto a neighboring property, that neighbor should submit a claim to his or her insurance company immediately. If the tree fell because of an act of nature, their insurance company is usually responsible for taking care of the damages. For example, if your healthy tree falls onto your neighbor’s property as a result of a tornado, hurricane, wind storm, or winter storm, the damages would probably not be your responsibility.


When You Are Liable for the Damages

There are some cases where a property owner from where the tree fell may be held legally liable. If your tree fell on your neighbor’s home while you were trying to cut it down without professional help, the damage would most likely be your responsibility. Also, if the tree was dying, unstable, or diseased, and you knew about it, you could be legally liable if it falls over on its own. You could also be liable if it falls over during a very light storm that would not normally knock over a tree. When you know you have dying, diseased, or unstable trees, it is your responsibility to take steps to prevent them from causing severe damage.


In the event you are legally liable for the damages, your personal insurance company will, in most cases, pay for the cleanup and repairs, up to your policy limit. For any further damages beyond that, you may be financially responsible. Most claims for fallen trees are due to storms or acts of nature, so in most cases, the insurance company representing the property owner will be responsible to cover any necessary repair costs.


The best way to try to avoid the headache of a fallen tree is to try to prevent it from happening in the first place. Check your trees regularly and have them inspected at the first sign of disease or any health issues.


How to Prevent a Tree Falling

A professional arborvitae can analyze the tree to see if it needs any special treatments, pruning, or complete removal. This may seem like an unnecessary expense, but it is much less expensive than the potential cost of paying for a neighbor’s home being destroyed and the legal costs that ensue.

The Upside of Insurance in Central PA

At Gunn-Mowery, our customer-first attitude, technical knowledge and integrity are what sets us apart. With locations in State College, Lancaster and Lemoyne, we are well-positioned to service Central PA and beyond. Reach out to our team learn more about the upside of insurance. 



Jamie Mowery Lewis

Marketing Executive

Jamie joined the Gunn-Mowery team as their marketing executive in 2016, after previously working as an event coordinator for the Central Penn Business Journal and the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association. As the Marketing Executive, she is the main point of contact for external communications, community relations and media inquiries. She takes pride in enhancing the Gunn-Mowery brand, including the website, social media platforms, design and marketing campaigns. Jamie is a member of the Leadership Harrisburg Area Community Leadership Series Class of 2019 and is the Chair of the Gunn-Mowery Upside of Giving committee. She attended West Chester University of Pennsylvania where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications

When she’s not in the office, you can find Jamie spending time with family, friends and her beagle, Lexie. She loves being outdoors, whether it’s on her farm, playing golf, relaxing on the beach, or cheering on the Nittany Lions in Happy Valley.

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