Fatal Car Accident: When is there Tree Liability
On Saturday, July 29th, a 27-year-old man lost his life after a tree fell on his car in Westchester. The incident shook the community and left many wondering what legal actions can be taken in situations like this. While most people assume that when a tree falls, or a branch falls off and causes an accident, that is just an act of God, and no one was really at fault, but that is not always the case.
A tree accident can be a tragic event. One minute you are driving along in your car and the next minute a large tree branch comes crashing through your windshield. In cases where a tree falls on a vehicle, it's important to identify who may potentially be liable. Liability is the legal responsibility for an event or consequence. Typically, property owners are responsible to maintain their property, which includes the trees on their land and can be held liable for any accidents or damage caused by them, if they were negligent in performing maintenance on their property. The obligation, or in legal terms, duty, to perform maintenance, includes cutting down trees that are in poor health and in bad condition. Therefore, in cases where a tree falls on a person or on a car, the property owner may be held responsible and liable for damages for personal injuries or wrongful death.
Obviously, since New York law requires that the property owner have notice of a dangerous condition, which can be actual or constructive, which means either they knew about the condition of the tree or the tree was in bad enough shape for so long that they should have known about the condition of the tree. So how do our New York City personal injury lawyers and Westchester personal injury attorneys prove notice that a tree was dangerous. One of the most important factors is pictures of the tree itself. If you find yourself in a similar situation, it's essential to document the accident scene completely. Take as many photos as possible and gather witnesses. This evidence could be crucial in proving liability and obtaining compensation.Often our attorneys hire tree experts to review the photographs of the tree to see if the tree was in poor health and was visibly decaying or rotting. Also in New York City, every tree on a public sidewalk is owned by the City of New York and every tree has a tree card which documents inspections of the tree over time, which often provides useful information on the condition of the tree. In general, the property owner may be considered negligent and responsible for any accidents that occurred, if it can be shown that they had notice that the tree was in bad condition and was a hazard and they failed to take action to prevent the tree from falling or its branches from breaking.