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Trees-Who’s Responsible

August 15, 2018

Within the past few years, the Greater Cincinnati/NKY region has been struck by the dreaded Emerald Ash Borer.  This little bug has caused thousands of Ash trees untimely demise with it’s voracious appetite, literally sucking the life out of the beautiful trees that proudly adorned landscapes all across our area.  If you have one of these trees in your yard, you may be in for a rude awakening if you do not realize the dangers that may follow.

A dead Ash tree, to residents in rural areas, is sometimes labeled as a “widow maker.”  This is largely due to the fact that the Ash tree has a very dense/heavy wood and can suddenly, without reason, drop branches.  The vibration from a chainsaw or even a lawnmower can be all it needs to break away.  As quoted from an article from the Chicago Tribune on February 16th, 2015, “Since the tree may already be unstable and dangerous, it’s wise to hire a trained, certified, insured professional arborist to do the job.”

Many may think that insurance will cover a fallen tree.  But, with most insurance carriers, there must be a good reason that the company will provide coverage.  Most insurance companies will only cover damage from a fallen tree if the tree fell from the force of wind, lightning, or weight of ice and snow to name a few.  Many insurance carriers are refusing to cover fallen trees as a result of neglect.  In addition, if the tree does not strike your home directly, the coverage for fallen trees is very limited-in some cases only $500.

Then, there is the cause for liability.  If you have a dead/neglected tree in your yard and it should happen to fall on your neighbor’s property, or even worse, your neighbor himself, you could be personally held liable for damages.  According to Tracy A. Smith, Attorney at Law for Morgan, Smith, Porter, PLLC., “The owner of a tree may be liable for injuries from a falling tree if he or she knew or reasonably should have know the tree was diseased, decayed, or otherwise constituted a dangerous condition.”  So, if you have a tree that is on your property that is hollow (even if it still bearing leaves), or is clearly dead or has dead branches, the best thing you can do is to have it removed.  It may cost you a few hundred dollars, but ignoring it could cost you thousands.

 

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