Last week, on a late spring evening, families gathered for a baseball tournament in Tupelo, Mississippi. As weather changed and a storm came in, a group of youth baseball players were told to stop play. As they walked off the field, a tree limb broke off and struck the head of a 10-year old boy. It is difficult to imagine the pain and chaos of these circumstances — as family and friends were present and other children were also injured. The boy’s injuries were the most serious and he was taken to the hospital. He did not survive his injuries.
Every year, trees cause serious injury and death. Unfortunately, a falling tree or tree limb comes with little or no warning. The tragedy in Mississippi gives pause, not only for the tragic circumstances, but concerns for our own families in what should be the most benign settings. During these spring and summer months when we spend so much time outside with our kids and families, we need to think about all aspects of safety. It is a good idea to also take a look around our own yards and gardens, to check on the health of trees around us. Any trees that look like they could have disease or could fall in a storm should be noted and considered for trimming or removal.
In fact, Georgia homeowners need to know their responsibility for caring for the trees on their property. We need to be concerned for the safety of our own families, but also the safety of our neighbors. In more populated areas of Georgia, damage caused by a fallen tree can be a property owner’s responsibility under specific circumstances. Under premises liability theories in Georgia, if a homeowner knew or reasonably should have known that a tree could be creating a dangerous condition, he or she could be responsible for injuries to persons or property. If a tree is visibly and obviously dead or diseased and causes damage to neighboring property or personal injury, a homeowner could be held responsible. If you have a neighbor with a dead or diseased tree, it is wise to take photographs of the condition and to let your neighbor know your concerns about the safety of the tree.
Georgia premises liability law, including Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 51-3-1, provides that owners of land can be liable for injuries caused by a failure to use ordinary care to keep the premises safe, can protect those injured on property. If a person is injured on property owned by another person or entity, the owner may be liable for that injury. If a property owner is negligent or worse, those injured may be entitled to monetary damages. If you have been injured in an accident or on someone else’s property, please contact Scholle Law for a free consultation. We represent the injured and harmed and we are here to help victims and their families recover from their injuries.