Visitor Question

Neighbor’s tree fell and damaged my property…

Submitted By: MJ (Memphis, Tennessee)

The property owner of house directly behind by house trimmed all branches off of pine trees in his back yard around 2014 or 2015 and left the bare tree standing. After this the trees have died.

On the morning of 12/24/17, I saw that one of the trees had fallen onto my property and damaged my fence and storage house. I contacted the owner and told him about the tree. He says he is not liable and that I am responsible. I told him since the tree died after he trimmed it, it is his responsibility. Am I correct? I live in Tennessee. I own my home, his is rental property.

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.

Answer

Dear MJ,

The tree belonged to your neighbor as did the dead branch which fell onto your fence. His property destroyed your property. You did not contribute in any manner to the damage, and therefore have no apparent liability.

Based on the facts, your neighbor’s failure to remove the dead branch and its subsequent falling on your fence constitutes negligence and subjects your neighbor to civil liability for the damage to your fence and its required repairs.

Seek several estimates for the cost of repairing the fence, submit them to your neighbor and ask him to pay. If he refuses, you can consider filing a small claims lawsuit against him. Let him know that as a fact, and not as a threat.

In Shelby County, Small Claims Courts have jurisdiction to hear cases in controversy up to twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000), which is one of the highest limits for small claims court in the country. If the repairs to your fence and storage house are $25,000 or less, you may avail yourself of the Small Claims process.

 

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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