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Neighbor's tenant may try to sue me.

Old 06-25-09, 08:31 PM
  #1  
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Neighbor's tenant may try to sue me.

My neighbor to the east, (not the one I share a driveway with to the west, for those that know what I am talking about), has a tenant who rents the downstairs apt. The tenant is a college student either working for to gain college credit or serving an internship at the regional cancer center as a radiologist. This kid doesn't have a lot of money. She parks her car on the west side, in my neighbor's driveway, that borders the east side of my property. I have a very large, old and very healthy honey locust tree on the NE corner of my property in the front lawn. The tree overhangs onto myside of course as well as my neighbor's. THe tree is not touching any part of my neighbors house. Where my neighbor's tenant parks her car is under this tree. A week ago this past Sat. a limb supposidly fell off, hit my neighbor's phone line, spun around it and hit the back window of the tenant car, busting it. My wife and I were not home at the time, we were in Illinois.

We get home and my neighbor comes over and tells us about it. We call our insurance agent to ask if it is civered under our home owners policy. It is not. It was an act of GOD or mother nature and we are not responsible for it. I told the tenant this to which she said we can just write her a check for it then. Of course we refused. She then threatened to talk to an attorney and take it to court. I called my insurance agent back and was advised to not pay one dime for the damage and she is likely bluffing that she has talked to an attorney. No attorney would likely tell her she has a case that would hold up in court.

Today my neighbor and the tenant came over to talk to my wife while I was commuting home from work on my bike. My wife made it clear we are not paying for this per the advise of our agent. Our neighbor is acting and mediator but we were dealing directly with the tenant. The tenant then told my wife she will take this to court to which my wife said go ahead and as you are wanting to do that we are done talking. Any future communication will be done between her attorney and our insurance agent or attorney. I am going to call my agent tomorrow to find out more.

The tenant does not have the coverage on her car to pay for damage like this. I think it is called comp and/or collision.

I am not asking for advice here. I know the law and who is responsible for what in situations like this. My and I are NOT responsible for the damage to her vehicle. We would be if we were cutting the limbs off of the tree. There was also a storm that weekend too, like I said mother nature or an act of GOD.

Anyone here can comment, etc. Just know per the advice of my insurance agent my wife and I are not responsible for this and we are NOT going to pay the tenant one dime for the damages.
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Old 06-25-09, 08:41 PM
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Actually her case may be stronger than you think. From what I know (just one year of law school...so I'm no sage), you can be responsible under a negligence theory for damages caused by trees that you haven't taken care of.

I'm not a lawyer and I have no idea what the law is in your jurisdiction. I'm definitely not giving legal advice. But I do know that her case would make it to court in at least some places and you might consider heading down to the local law school and looking up the law in your area.
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Old 06-25-09, 08:42 PM
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rule of thumb: never park under a tree during a storm, especially when it's plastered all over the news.

dunno about the laws of such things, but every time a storm comes through here, there's at least a few people with big broken off branches on their car. not through negligence on the part of the owner or city, but simply because the winds were that strong.

betcha some trees were uprooted and smashed a few roofs and windows elsewhere during that storm.
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Old 06-25-09, 08:43 PM
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Glue the branch back on.

What damage?
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Old 06-25-09, 08:48 PM
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Hate to break it to you, but she's right and you're wrong.

Your tree, your responsibility, your liability.

If the insurance co won't pay, investigate the idea of a bad faith claim against the insurer. IF your policy does exclude tree branches from coverage, then you should pony up the funds yourself.
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Old 06-25-09, 08:52 PM
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uh actually, you may be liable. My understanding, at least in my state, (although I could be wrong) that if you don't keep trees properly maintained that are on your property,you could be responsible for damages.
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Old 06-25-09, 08:52 PM
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she has a case.
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Old 06-25-09, 08:59 PM
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Just because your own insurance company says you are not covered by your policy for this type of accident doesn't mean you are not liable for the damage caused by your tree. The other party won't care what your insurance agent claims.
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Old 06-25-09, 09:00 PM
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The only way I am responsible is if I was cutting the limbs off of the tree and they fell on her car. If the wind blows and knocks a tree branch down, or if the limb falls off from some other method other then by my hand I am not responsible. I am not liable unless I was the one causing hte limb to fall off of the tree. I was no where near my home that weekend. And NO I AM NOT going to pony up anything to pay her.

Also when she talked to me yesterday she mentioned talking to an attorney. When she talked to my wife today, with out me present she only said my people or the people I have talked to, she never mentioned the word attorney. When speaking to my insurance agent he thinks she has not talked to an attorney and she is bluffing. For some reason she also keeps making reference to being a poor college student with out a lot of money. She is going to have to learn a harsh reality of life that sometimes **** happens, this is one of those times and the outcome you want is not going to be the outcome you're going to get.

I asked her if her auto insurance covers this type of damage. She said no. I do not know of she is making payments on her car, but if she is I know you have to have full coverage auto insurance. I do not know of that includes comp coverage. I know my wife and I have comp on our vehicle as part of our auto insurance.

This would be the same type of situation if she parked across the street in the public parking lane and a neighbors limb from their front yard fell on her car.

About 8 years ago we had a nasty storm and major down draft. I'm talking hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage, mainly from trees, tree limbs and power poles coming down and landing on people's cars, houses, etc. This was an act of GOD or mother nature. Only if the owners of the property that was damaged had the insurance coverage could a claim have been made and money paid out to cover the damage. There was one vehicle, less the a block away that was crushed by a tree. It was parked in the owners driveway. The tree belonged to his neighbor. The person who owned the tree was not responsible for paying the damages. This is the same type of situation, just a lot smaller scale. And no, that storm 8 years ago was not a natural disaster, just a bad storm.
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Old 06-25-09, 09:06 PM
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What state are you in?
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Old 06-25-09, 09:06 PM
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if the tree wasn't rotting, act of god.
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Old 06-25-09, 09:09 PM
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Why are you so adamant about not giving this student a dime when your tree damaged her car?
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Old 06-25-09, 09:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Square & Compas View Post
The only way I am responsible is if I was cutting the limbs off of the tree and they fell on her car. If the wind blows and knocks a tree branch down, or if the limb falls off from some other method other then by my hand I am not responsible. I am not liable unless I was the one causing hte limb to fall off of the tree. I was no where near my home that weekend. And NO I AM NOT going to pony up anything to pay her.
I don't know where you live and what the rules are, but I went through a similar situation with a neighbor of mine. His tree had a branch that extended over the property line and above my car. During a rain storm, the branch broke and damaged the hood of my car. I spoke with him the next morning and he asked me for a couple of days to consult an attorney. His attorney advised him to request 3 repair estimates, which I provided. My neighbor paid me the amount equivalent to the lowest of the 3 estimates.

Did your attorney advise you that you're not liable?
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Old 06-25-09, 09:16 PM
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Originally Posted by thebarerider View Post
Actually her case may be stronger than you think. From what I know (just one year of law school...so I'm no sage), you can be responsible under a negligence theory for damages caused by trees that you haven't taken care of.
I know in Texas and in Michigan (two states I've lived in) that any part of the tree that is over the neighbor's property is the neighbor's responsibility, not yours.
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Old 06-25-09, 09:21 PM
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here in Toronto, all trees belong to the city, well all trees in Ontario belong to the province. doesn't matter who's property it is on, the city/province owns it. too bad they're not the best of caretakers.
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Old 06-25-09, 09:24 PM
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The tree was obviously maintained well enough that she felt safe parking her car there.
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Old 06-25-09, 09:26 PM
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Originally Posted by AEO View Post
if the tree wasn't rotting, act of god.
+1

Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
I know in Texas and in Michigan (two states I've lived in) that any part of the tree that is over the neighbor's property is the neighbor's responsibility, not yours.
Agreed. Same for taking fruit off of it should it be bearing. And if your neighbor wants to trim that part of the tree that is hanging over, then he is legally able to. At least in California.
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Old 06-25-09, 09:35 PM
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Get a lawyer, Square. You're in for a ride.
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Old 06-25-09, 09:36 PM
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Phobias are for irrational fears. Fear of junk ripping badgers is perfectly rational. Those things are nasty.
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Old 06-25-09, 09:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
I know in Texas and in Michigan (two states I've lived in) that any part of the tree that is over the neighbor's property is the neighbor's responsibility, not yours.
In Texas, you're allowed to blow away the part of your neighbor's tree overhanging on your property with an AK-47.
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Old 06-25-09, 09:41 PM
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Originally Posted by slvoid View Post
In Texas, you're allowed to blow away the part of your neighbor's tree overhanging on your property with an AK-47.
No, it has to be an American made weapon. Fine point of law, but worth noting.
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Originally Posted by colorider View Post
Phobias are for irrational fears. Fear of junk ripping badgers is perfectly rational. Those things are nasty.
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Old 06-25-09, 09:53 PM
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Originally Posted by thebarerider View Post
Why are you so adamant about not giving this student a dime when your tree damaged her car?
+1

I wouldn't really care what the lawyers or insurance agents have to say about it: I'd certainly pay for the repairs if my tree fell on someone's car.
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Old 06-25-09, 09:56 PM
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Write her a check and forget about it. The time you save will be worth it.
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Old 06-25-09, 09:59 PM
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I had similar, it is an act of God and you are not responsible and their insurance will cover it. If they don't have that type of insurance they or out of luck. At worst, if they sue you and win, then your insurance will cover it, but it is not your responsibility.

It would be different if there was negligence on your part, such as you were warned about this being a problem, but this is no different than an earthquake, tornado, etc. Just because the tree was on your property is not the point. And if a branch is growing over onto someone else's property, they have the right to cut it, so if they didn't they they are partially to blame too.
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Old 06-25-09, 10:20 PM
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