One of the easiest ways to cause conflict between neighbors is when a tree on his or her property falls over onto your house, car or yard. This is not something many people prepare for or think about before it happens, as most people like the greenery that makes for a beautiful neighborhood.
However, when winds start reaching excess speeds, there becomes a high likelihood that branches will come toppling down. There is always a possibility during any storm that a tree or a large limb could fall from one person’s property onto another. If you as a homeowner are concerned about a tree that seems unstable or dead, you should not hesitate to bring up the issue with your neighbor.
As a homeowner, you should understand the legal importance of keeping an eye out for any potential problems with trees on your property and, when necessary, cut unsafe trees down before they fall and cause damage. The general law in South Carolina is that a homeowner can be held legally responsible for damage caused by a tree that fell from their property if they should have known the tree may be unsafe and could have reasonably expected it could fall. On the other hand, if something unexpected such as the effects of a hurricane caused their perfectly healthy tree to fall onto a neighbor’s property, it will not necessarily be their legal responsibility to pay for the damage it caused.
The good thing to know is that any damage to your home or yard caused by a tree should generally be covered by your insurance. If a tree falls from neighboring property, your insurance company will probably recover any costs they paid from whosever ‘owned’ the tree, meaning whosever property the tree was growing on.
Nevertheless, you may not end up in a situation where insurance simply takes care of the costs. This may be due to a homeowner being uninsured, or some type of dispute arises as to who is at fault. That is why you should take certain steps after something like this happens to you in order to put yourself in the best position to quickly recover costs from damages.
Most insurance companies will want to see the damage before final repairs are made and therefore you should:
- Take pictures, video tape your damage before making any repairs.
- Protect the property from further damage. Make temporary repairs if needed.
- Keep a list of expenses and receipts of what you spent.
- Contact your agent or insurance company as soon as possible.
- Keep an inventory of your damaged property.
Of course, if you were injured or your property was damaged by a fallen tree, always contact a good lawyer who can help you navigate this complex area of South Carolina’s laws regarding responsibility of fallen trees. If we can help you in any way, do not hesitate to call or email us at Rankin & Rankin in Conway, SC at (843) 248-2405.