Visitor Question

Head injured by tree branch on rental property?

Submitted By: Robert (Mission Viejo, California)

I am renting a house from a private landlord. A large tree with multiple trunks, many growing out at 45 degrees from the ground, needs to be maneuvered around to go from the front to the side and rear of the property. I hit my head on one of these trunks today and with significant bleeding had to visit Urgent Care for attention to the wound.

I have a headache and was told to monitor the situation for any other symptoms over the next couple or days. Is this a basis for a liability claim against the landlord? What can I do? Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Robert,

It may be enough for a claim. Presuming the landlord is the owner of the property, there exists a basis for liability under the legal doctrine of “Premises Liability.”

Premises liability can be defined in part as the legal duty of a property owner to visitors who enter upon the property. Premises liability addresses injuries caused by a property owner’s failure to maintain his or her property or to warn visitors of conditions which may present a danger.

Common premises liability cases include injuries from slipping and falling on ice or snow, falling on broken staircases, injuries from poor lighting in parking lots, burns from leaking pipes, etc.

For purposes of premises liability a tenant is referred to under common law as an “Invitee.” The term Invitee refers to a visitor whom the property owner permits on the property, but who is not trading benefits with the property owner.

A property owner has a legal duty to protect Invitees from any dangerous condition the owner knows or should know exists on the property. This includes inspecting the property and repairing or removing the dangerous condition, or at a minimum, warning tenants about the danger.

It would be helpful if you, or others had previously reported the tree trunk danger to the landlord.  This would support a finding the property owner had actual notice of the danger. In any event, the landlord knew or should have known the tree trunk presented a danger, especially as it appears to have been blocking reasonable access to the front, side and rear of the property. This would support a finding of liability.

Learn more here: Landlord Problems/Disputes

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,


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