Insight from Skilled Hazard Trees Attorneys
Trees play an essential role in the environment, contributing to the oxygen we breathe and making this planet livable. In fact, a mature leafy tree produces as much oxygen in a single season as ten people breathe in an entire year. Trees are also beautiful, contributing to the aesthetics of our residential and commercial buildings, parks, schools and communities. When trees are not properly maintained or are affected by heavy weather or other events, however, they can present serious hazards to people and property alike. As Hazard Tree Attorneys in New York we help clients recover damages caused by negligence of others.
A “hazard tree” may be described as a tree that has a defect and presents some level of danger to a target, such as a house, vehicle, power line or passerby. An example may be a tree with a broken limb that is hanging over a house. Should the limb fall, the house may be damaged and any people inside may be injured. When hazard trees cause harm, injured parties may be able to seek financial compensation from the owner of the property where the tree is located or another responsible party.
Napoli Shkolnik, PLLC represents the injured and wronged in personal injury lawsuits across the United States. With fully-staffed offices in seven states, we are fully equipped to handle the most complex cases for clients throughout the country. If you were injured or your property was damaged because of a hazard tree, a personal injury attorney at our firm may be able to help you determine what party or parties may be to blame. We may be able to help you seek financial compensation for medical expenses, repairs, lost earnings and other losses or expenses you have experienced.
Identifying a Hazard Tree
Some hazard trees are easy to spot, with hanging branches or large holes and cracks in trunks. Another obvious indicator is a tree that is leaning dangerously to one side. The following are some indications that a tree may present a hazard now or in the future:
- A severely damaged branch/limb that is hanging off the tree (often called a “widow maker” by industry professionals), typically caused by previous damage.
- Fungal activity, such as mushroom growth. This is often an indication of advanced decay.
- Ooze coming from cracks in the tree or places where branches have been cut or have broken off.
- Sharp bends in branches, limbs or trunks.
- A tapered trunk. The trunk should grow wider at the base.
- Old wounds. Places where branches have been cut off or broken off may provide sites for future wood rot and decay, particularly if they have not closed properly.
- New growth at sites where a tree has been pruned or damged. This may be an indication that a tree is under stress.
- Cavities. Cavities, cracks and holes in a tree may be an indication that the tree is decaying. These can compromise the stability of the entire tree, depending on their location and size as well as the ratio of sound wood to decayed wood.
- Excessive pruning of interior branches. This can place undue weight and stress on the end of branches.
- Poor branch spacing. Branches should be evenly spaced; if too many branches originate from one point on the tree they are more likely to fall.
- Dead wood. Wood on a tree that is dead, dry and brittle. Because it cannot bend like a healthy, living part of a tree, it is more likely to crack and fall.
- Leaning. A tree that is leaning to one side not because of natural growth but because of an external influence (snow, rain, decay, etc.) may be at risk of falling.
- A root that grows against or around the trunk of a tree. This may interfere with the tree’s ability to absorb water and nutrients and may result in the eventual failure of the entire tree.
Who is responsible?
When a tree or part of a tree falls and injures someone or causes property damage, the owner of the tree (usually the owner of the property where the tree is located) is most often to blame. In a residential area, the homeowner’s insurance policy may cover such damage. In commercial or public areas, other coverage may apply. Of course property owners are not expected to be experts on maintaining trees, but they should be able to recognize obvious signs of damage and should take proper measures to have their trees taken care of. If this property owner hired an arborist or other tree-care expert to inspect and maintain trees and they failed in their professional duty, there may be grounds for a claim against this individual or company.
As with any personal injury case we handle, our attorneys look to any and all potential sources of compensation in order to protect a client’s best interests. If you would like to discuss your case with a legal professional who will take the time to answer your questions and address your concerns, call our offices. We have more than 150 years of combined legal experience and have recovered more than $3 billion in settlements and verdicts for our clients since 2000 alone. Your initial consultation is free and confidential, and you pay no legal fees unless we win your case. Contact a personal injury lawyer today.