What happens when a neighbor’s tree falls in my yard?
By Heather Borden Herve
It doesn’t matter if you heard the tree fall, but it does matter if you asked your neighbor to take care of it before it fell. This way, if you disagree over who pays for removal and any damage, you may be in luck.
Says Wilton attorney Douglas Bayer. “Connecticut law states whosever property the tree falls on is responsible. The exception would be if there’s a dangerous condition the tree owner had notice of and failed to take reasonable measures to prevent it from falling. If there’s a dead tree poised to fall, and a neighbor says, ‘Can you remove your dead tree?’ there may be cause of action against the tree owner.”
Town officials can offer little help. Residents can consult survey maps in Town Hall to determine property lines, but the maps don’t show trees. And Public Works can only remove a downed tree that falls on town land.
The good news? Insurance might be able to help before things turn ugly, especially if you have a paper trail. “It’s called subrogation,” says State Farm agent Rocco Casinelli. “We say to your neighbor’s insurance company, ‘We think your insured is responsible for the damage done to this home due to their neglect to take care of the tree.’” However, insurance only kicks in for property damage, not just to remove a fallen tree.