Tragic Fatal Injury After Pine Tree Falls
Winter is a time for beauty and caution. The ice, snow and rain that has fallen in different parts of Georgia, bring beautiful images and can be dangerous. Just this month, storms in metro-Atlanta led to the tragic death of a woman when a tree fell on her car. The incident involved a rotten pine tree that dropped onto her Honda Civic on a DeKalb County road. She passed away after she was removed from her vehicle by emergency teams. In another frightening local incident, a child escaped injury and was safely rescued after a tree fell on a home. In California, where the rain has been relentless in the drought-ridden state, a woman was walking with her husband on the golf course near her home, when a tree fell on her and killed her instantly.
Responsibility for Injury or Death from Falling Trees
These events bring to mind the question: who is responsible for injury or death from falling trees? In Georgia, when a tree falls and causes injury or property damage, urban homeowners and property owners can be held responsible for resulting damages. But the law says that the tree must be “visibly dead or diseased” for the owner to be held responsible. In other words, the property owner must know, or reasonably should have known, that the tree was decayed and therefore dangerously likely to fall. This means that if a tree on your property looks healthy and has no signs of decay, but falls and causes injury, you will likely not be held responsible. But if neighbor’s diseased or dead tree comes under these parameters and falls on your home, property or on a person, that neighbor could be responsible for any damage caused.
What Georgia Law Does and Does Not Require
Georgia courts apply negligence standards to issues with falling trees and have noted that an urban property owner who knows a tree is decayed or dead has a duty to remove the tree to avoid damage to adjoining property. However, property owners do not have a duty to remove trees that have no visible appearance of rot, decay or other serious problems that could cause the tree to fall. The tree must be visibly and patently in a condition that could cause it to fall. (See Cornett v. Agee, 143 Ga.App. 55, 57 (1977)). These parameters on the responsibility of property owners for trees that fall and cause damage have been affirmed and referred to in several cases in recent years. These cases note that a property owner who knows that a tree is decayed and could fall must take steps to eliminate the danger. This duty does not require the property owner to know about rot or decay that is not visible.
The instant tragedy of a tree that falls and injures or kills, reminds us that life is fragile and can change in a moment. As Gwinnett County injury lawyers, we know that when something unexpected like an accident occurs, families can be tossed into turmoil. The impact on all family members cannot be understated. These situations can be overwhelming and families, as well as the injured victim, need support and care. Often, families need legal support and tenacious representation.
Scholle Law applies our legal expertise to those who have been injured or harmed by the fault of another. We are here to help you consider your legal options by reviewing the circumstances of your case at no charge to you and to represent those who have been injured or harmed most often on a contingency basis. That means we do not get paid until you get paid. Please contact our law firm to talk with us about your accident or injury.