When A Tree Falls

   Property owners’ liability can be caused by many events, some of which would seem unlikely.

   A recent accident in Waukesha County illustrates this fact. In the fall of 2016, the area was experiencing gusty winds. At the same time, a property owner’s neighbor was cutting his grass. A gust of wind struck a stand of trees at precisely the wrong moment. This gust caused a tree to blow over and fall on the neighbor. This caused serious injuries leading to his death.  Litigation ensued.

   The property owner’s potential liability comes from whether they knew or should have known that the tree was dead. Apparently there were indications it was. Therefore, the theory of liability is that a reasonably prudent landowner would remove the dead tree, knowing that at some point, it could fall creating a hazard to individuals in the area.

   This same logic would apply to large branches. In other words, a property owner must exercise reasonable care in paying attention to the condition of their property.

   This does not mean that a property owner is automatically responsible for any injury occurring on their property. I have had many calls from individuals inquiring about whether their neighbor is liable for their child’s injury which occurred when he or she fell from a swing set or other toy. As I explain, simply because something happens on someo ...

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