legal eagle inputs please

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bobski

Hunter
Joined
Oct 18, 2012
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Ct., Va., & Vanzant, Mo.
my hemlock tree came down on neighbors house in a storm. tree was healthy and not leaning. straight line wind pushed it over. not a big tree. rake edge caught it. maybe 4 shingles got dinged on the rake edge. tree went thru a 6' picket privacy fence 50 years old and already rotting.
i called my insurance co and they said insurance covers my property, not neighbors.
act of G-d due to storm is not negligence.
if it had been dead or leaning, yes, but he told me neighbors insurance covers neighbors damage.
fast forward.
got an email from a new and unfriendly strictly business neighbor wanting me to pay her deductable since it was my tree that caused the damage. 2500.00.

1. i dont want to since it would set a presedence for any other tress if they came down.
2. it would admit guilt.
3. simply put, we cant afford it.

what is the law and what should i expect her next move will be?
 
Joined
Apr 2, 2014
Messages
2,127
Don't know about your specific law.
My personal law is it's my tree....I'm paying her out of pocket costs.

Edit...Before I wrote the check I'd be carefully reading my policy and riders
to be sure it really didn't cover the damage my property did to hers.
Insurances companies are not always forth coming about meeting their
contractual requirements, sometimes seem to need reminders.
 
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ronto

Buckeye
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Mar 22, 2006
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Deep in the Arkansas woods
My "strictly business" response to her would be: SO SUE ME! When she files suit turn it over to your insurance company to settle under the "Personal Liability" section of your homeowners insurance policy.
 

Chief 101

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Feb 14, 2007
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Idaho
My "strictly business" response to her would be: SO SUE ME! When she files suit turn it over to your insurance company to settle under the "Personal Liability" section of your homeowners insurance policy.
$2500 would likely be small claims court...
 
Joined
Jan 2, 2005
Messages
3,187
Location
Northern Illinois
I had a Category 1 tornado hit my house in the summer of 2020. I lost 12 trees, mostly that snapped off mid trunk in my front yard. In my backyard the neighbors tree was knocked down and fell into my yard, destroying a children's play set. I learned a few things about how this all works. First, I found that the damage in my yard had to be covered by my insurance, not my neighbor's even though it was her tree that caused the loss of the play ground set. I never asked her to pay the deductible, which was almost the total of the cost of the loss. I also found out that my insurance covered the loss, if any, suffered due to the falling trees, but not the cost of cleaning up the downed trees or their replacement. I had nothing damaged in the front yard other than the trees themselves. That ran me a bit over $5,000 to remove the downed trees, cut down and remove the remaining trunks and stumps. Added to that was another $2,000 to put in some landscaping to replace somewhat of the privacy that those trees had afforded me. All told an expensive experience for me, and not a penny the responsibility of my neighbor.

If I were you I would not pay the $2,500.
 

contender

Ruger Guru
Joined
Sep 18, 2002
Messages
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Location
Lake Lure NC USA
Asking for legal advice here isn't the best thing. But what I would do is NOT respond to your neighbor at all.
I would contact your insurance company, and let them know what's going on. And if your neighbor persists in contacting you, you just keep contacting your insurance agent. You pay your premiums, and they work for you.
As noted, an "act of God" is not something you should be liable for.
Using your insurance agent and that company's legal bunch won't cost you anything. If it escalates, then you can contact a lawyer.
A consult with a lawyer is cheaper than paying $2500.
 
Joined
Nov 15, 2005
Messages
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Location
Greenville, SC: USA
Obviously I'm no legal eagle and it seems often state laws vary but I've only heard from what you describe you are not liable because the tree was healthy.. now with that said I would offer her a compromise but in that compromise would be a letter stating that you are only helping out with the damage to be neighborly and not because you have any legal obligation to or some such terms. $2500 is one hell of a deductible for home insurance... it tells me something about the neighbor....
 
Joined
Nov 5, 2007
Messages
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Location
Dallas, TX
$2500 is one hell of a deductible for home insurance... it tells me something about the neighbor....
What does it say? What's a normal deductible?


I'm not a lawyer, but it seems to me around here the tree owner would have to pay. And I would say in my humble opinion, paying the deductible is only fair and a lot cheaper than paying for the whole thing.
 

hittman

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Illinois
One thing I learned is small claims judges don’t have to rule based on law or insurance documents or anything else. They can and will rule based on personal experience.
Judges are omnipotent.
But the folks who think that most often have represented themselves in court or were ill prepared or simply wrong.
 

Tenbore

Single-Sixer
Joined
Aug 21, 2009
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Location
Oregon
Before I would pay anything, or nothing, I would demand to see a copy of the actual bid for repairs and the insurance coverage that claims that high of deductible. If they refuse, then some kind of scam is probably going on.
 
Joined
Jan 10, 2005
Messages
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Location
Alexandria, LA USA
From personal experience and I'm not in the legal business--- same thing happened to me and I was told the same answer. Their insurance pays for their damage and yours pays you. That's why people have insurance. In my case the tree fell over an across-the-street neighbor's car. If it was a rotten tree I should have removed before it fell, then I would have been liable out of pocket for negligence.
Like said above, let your insurance company be your buffer.
 
Joined
Mar 29, 2017
Messages
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Location
Idaho
In Oregon, what Bobski said his insurance told him is correct. IF it were me, I would either fix the fence or pay to have it repaired and make sure you document by a 3rd party, use photos etc. proving that the tree was sound. That is what any lawsuit will be based on.
If you knew or had reasonable belief that the tree was rotten, weaken, unstable. Then it's on you to remove/repair it before it causes problems on other property and that means you would be paying and losing in any court.
 
Joined
Jan 15, 2007
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Location
The Sticks---N.W. Orygun
Big ice storm here 2 years ago next week, brought down tons of trees and knocked out power for 10 days. I dealt with the clean up for 6 months. Neighbors trees down on my fences (6' chain-link) on 1 side, and field fence and barbed wire on another side. We all did what we could to get it cleaned up. I waited a year thinking neighbor would take care of my chain-link. He says my own insurance should cover it. Yep act of God. I paid $1000 deductible and got my fencing and shed repaired to the tune of $18,000. I got the work done and am happy to be finished with it. Before I had the work done I reminded neighbor that he had several more leaning and that when they come down he will now be responsible going forward. He went ahead and took down several more that would have come down on their own. Other neighbor did more than his part to clean up debris, left me the fire wood, and he repaired the field fencing to keep his cattle off my place.
My homeowners policy jumped from $1200 to $1500 per year upon renewal. At that price increase it will take the insurance company 60 years to recoup what they paid out. Nice to have insurance when you finally get around to needing it. Both neighbors remain friends and nothing more came of it. I also gleaned around 15 cords of fire wood from all this. I gave away almost 1/2 for the help I got from friends. The rest I finished splitting and stacking and will cover me for 2-3 years of wood stove fuel. I never asked either neighbor to pay my deductible.
 
Joined
Mar 24, 2002
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Oregon City, Oregon
I'm not a lawyer nor do I play one on TV. But I do have some experiences particular to where I live.

We get both ice storms and wind storms fairly often. They create havoc, and every time the questions arise, "who's responsible".

And the answer remains the same. The homeowner is responsible for damages on his own property when damages are via an act of God.

We could exaggerate the scenario... A tornado touches down, uproots a tree and it lands two blocks away on a persons roof. Is the owner of the tree responsible? Hardly.

And it's for these reasons we have the option to buy insurance. And we further have the option to be highly insured or barely insured.

Continuing this discussion... Even if a tree was in bad shape to start with, many code jurisdictions require a permit to remove a tree on the owners property. Most folks don't abide by that, including me now, and I'll take a tree down without permission. That wasn't always the case. We built a new house. There were large trees on the property needing to be removed near the footprint of the house. One was rotten. We asked permission, and the city said no. Arbor laws and all. Next wind storm, this same tree fell on our new house. Was the city responsible? Nope.:mad:

Subsequent property owners in the area, I suggested to them take down whatever trees you want and don't ask questions.


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