Broken Tree fallen on car

Whether from a huge storm or a small gust of wind, trees and branches fall on cars every day. If your car happens to be one of them, determining who is at fault can be overwhelming.

There are several different questions to answer to determine liability when a tree falls on a vehicle. Did the tree have any visible defects, or did it appear perfectly healthy? Did the tree belong to a neighbor, or was it on city land?

When faced with a situation where a tree has fallen on your vehicle, we recommend you contact an experienced premises liability lawyer. At Bell & Pollock P.C., we can help you determine liability and negotiate with insurance companies. Call our office for a free case evaluation to get started.

 

A City Tree Fell on My Car – Now What?

Legal responsibility varies based on the ownership of the property that the tree was on. If a city tree falls on your car, that means that the property, in this case, the tree, was government-owned. To proceed with the legal process, you will have to file a claim with the government. In Colorado, a damage claim must be submitted in writing within 182 days, or about six months, of the damage. The specific timeframe to file varies in different states.

Different states also give the government varying levels of immunity. Often the government is held to a lower standard of accountability for a tree falling on their property than a private citizen would be.

If you decide to file a claim with the government due to a tree or tree branch falling on your vehicle, please contact one of our premises liability lawyers who will be able to walk you through the process.

Example of a City Tree Falling on a Car

In 2017, there was a windstorm in nearby Nebraska in which city trees fell on several residents’ cars. In this circumstance, the city government did not have as much liability as a private property owner would. When it comes to damage to vehicles due to city infrastructure, whether caused by a tree or a pothole, it is exceptionally hard to prove that the government was negligent, as you cannot confirm that they were aware of the potential hazard.

Does Insurance Cover a Tree Branch Falling on a Car?

Depending on the circumstances, your auto insurance may cover the cost of a tree branch falling on your car. However, if the tree branch fell from a tree on another person’s property, it may instead be covered by that property owner’s insurance.

There are also several situations where an incident would not be covered under any party’s insurance policy. Consulting with a premises liability lawyer or car accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed.

 

Acts of God and Insurance Coverage

Unfortunately, a tree can fall on a car due to a natural disaster or major weather event. These events can constitute an act of God under some insurance policies. An act of God is an event that no person could have controlled.

Weather events categorized as acts of God by most insurance policies are based on how likely they are to occur in a particular geographical region. For example, damages from a snowstorm may be covered under acts of God provisions here in Colorado. However, it would be very unlikely for insurance to snowstorm damages for a policyholder in Florida.

 

My Neighbor’s Tree Fell on My Car

If a neighbor’s tree falls on your car, they may be at fault. Your neighbor could be liable if they made a conscious choice to change something on their property that made it more likely for the tree to fall. One example of this is if your neighbor cut down several trees in one area of their yard and left just a few remaining. These trees would now be more susceptible to falling, which could create a hazardous environment.

Negligence

Your neighbor could also be liable if a tree that fell would have been considered a hazardous tree. A hazardous tree would have a significant, often visible defect, and be in an area where it could fall on a person or vehicle. Even if the issue with the tree was not caused by the homeowners directly, it could be considered negligence if they did not address the issue. Examples of hazardous defects on trees can include:

  • Dead branches
  • Splits in tree trunks
  • Decayed areas in the trunk
  • Mushrooms or fungi growing near the base of the tree
  • Location of the tree

Of course, perfectly healthy trees may also have these attributes. Anyone in doubt of the level of hazard of their tree should try to prevent a potential incident rather than reacting to it after the fact.

 

Example of a Tree Liability Case

A recent Colorado case regarding premises liability law and its relevance to trees is Love v. Klosky, which was decided by the Colorado Supreme Court in 2018. In this case, there was a catalpa tree on the property line of two different homeowners with adjacent lawns. One family wanted to cut down the tree, as branches from the tree fell on their property, and the other family wanted to keep it.

The court referenced materials that were several centuries old and decided that the owners of the property on which the tree originally grew were the only people who could choose whether to remove the tree. This family wanted to keep the tree as it was.

However, the court elaborated that, for this and future cases, if a single tree that is on two different homeowner’s properties could be considered a hazard, either property owner has the right to cut down the tree or remove branches.

If you have been in a situation where a tree fell on your car in Colorado, contact an experienced premises liability lawyer at Bell & Pollock P.C. Call (720) 613-6736 for a free consultation to understand your legal options.

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Call a trusted attorney at Bell & Pollock, P.C. at (303) 795-5900 to get on the road to recovery now. You can also email our firm via the contact firm on this page.

As proud champions of the people, our lawyers are ready to answer your questions, explain the law and your rights, and help you take whatever steps necessary to recover the compensation you’re entitled to. With us in your corner, you can be confident that you have the legal support and representation necessary to successfully resolve your claim.

Don’t delay your recovery for a second longer – and don’t be misguided into thinking that you have to go through the process alone. Our attorneys are here, ready to help – and you won’t have to pay us anything until (or unless) there is a recovery in your case.

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Case Results

WE KNOW HOW TO WIN

CASE: Client was injured by a drunk driver. As a result of the motor vehicle accident, client was rendered a quadriplegic and needed a life care plan.
Outcome: $9,600,000

CASE: Against Insurance company for failure to pay for property damage after a gas and fire explosion.
Outcome: $1,600,000

CASE: Medical malpractice for failure to diagnose a descending aorta aneurism, resulting in death.
Outcome: $1,300,000

CASE: Neck and back injuries from car accident. Client had ongoing symptoms and needed injections for attempted remediation of pain.
Settled for $485,000

CASE: Client was injured in a 2 vehicle collision. She suffered a traumatic brain injury, concussion and multiple injuries to the neck.
Outcome: $6,000,000

CASE: Client was in her car and was T-Boned by a commercial vehicle. Her cerebral spinal fluid leaked and she suffered a concussion and traumatic brain injury with neck and lumbar (low back) injuries. Her neck injury caused radiating pain, numbness and tingling in her arms.
Outcome: $3,400,000

CASE: Client was driving on a rural road when another car crossed the center line and caused a head-on collision in the snow and ice. Client did physical work for a living. Both knees were injured, along with a neck injury.
Outcome: $2,300,000

CASE: Client was driving on South Parker road when another vehicle rapidly changed lanes and rear-ended the client. That vehicle was cited for careless driving. The collision caused a concussion with traumatic brain Injury. Client missed time from work and had a positive correlation between brain scan and neuropsychological test results.
Outcome: $950,000

CASE: Client was rear ended by a dump truck, was then knocked forward and hit another vehicle. Client had a concussion with traumatic brain injury. Client underwent a brain scan which showed hypoperfusion, correlated with her concussion symptoms. Client suffered neck injuries and injuries to her low back.
Outcome: $650,000

CASE: Client was rear-ended. The mechanism of injury from the forces in the collision caused her neck injury and at the same time, damaged her organs inside her throat. Client had swallowing and choking issues.
Outcome: $1,250,000

CASE: Client was in a motor vehicle accident. Both injections in the neck rendered some temporary relief. The Injections were transforaminal epidural steroid injections. Surgery was recommended on the lumbar (low back). The low back was injured by the forces in the collisions.
Outcome: $933,000

CASE: The client was driving in her car and was rear-ended thereby causing injuries to her lower back and neck. Client also suffered a concussion. Client had to undergo facet injections multiple times, through multiple procedures. Client also had cognitive issues which required cognitive training and therapy.
Outcome: $400,000

CASE: Client was entering a highway from an on ramp and was rear-ended by a commercial van. Client tested positive for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and failed conservative treatment. Client underwent thoracic outlet syndrome surgey, which involved removal of the first rib to attempt to relieve pressure in the thoracic outlet. Client also suffered a back injury.
Outcome: $750,000

CASE: Client was injured by a drunk driver, who crossed the center line of the road. Client underwent multiple surgeries and could not work. Client was late 40s and needed a modified life care plan.
Outcome: $750,000

CASE: Client was rear ended by a tow truck driver who was a diabetic. The diabetic at fault party was a non-compliant diabetic and claimed he had a syncope episode, and was “blacked out”. Client had a preexisting back condition known and the forces from the collision aggravated, or made worse, the preexisting back condition in addition to, causing neck injuries.
Outcome: $350,000

CASE: Client was a passenger in a car where the driver fell asleep on a country road in the early morning hours. The car rolled multiple times. Client had eye injuries, facial injuries and neck and knee injuries.
Outcome: $850,000

CASE: Client was on the job, driving her own car, when she was rear-ended. She suffered a concussion with traumatic brain injury and pursued Workers Compensation Claim.
Outcome: $150,000

CASE: Client slipped and fell on snow and ice in Central City. He suffered back injuries, that did not require injections.
Outcome: $125,000

CASE: Client slipped and fell on snow and ice on a sidewalk in front of a business. She had to have knee surgery and multiple injections in her back.
Outcome: $175,000

CASE: Client was visiting a friend who was renting a house. Client tripped on untreated, dangerous section of deck and injured his back.
Outcome: $150,000

CASE:Client was rear ended and needed fusion spinal surgery. Insurance proceeds were limited.
Outcome: $125,000

CASE:Client was rear-ended and had to have rotator cuff surgery. Insurance proceeds were limited.
Settled for $65,000

CASE:Client was at Denver International Aiport traveling through Denver, slipped and fell and broke her ankle.
Settled for $118,750

CASE:Client was exposed to mold in a multi-family dwelling that was caused by leaking water.
Settled for $125,000

CASE:Motorcycle accident, reconstructive surgery, post-traumatic stress disorder, neurological injuries
Settled for $1,275,000

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