Visitor Question

Will the neighbor’s homeowner’s insurance cover damages caused by a tree?

Submitted By: Rebecca (Bastrop, Louisiana)

We had a storm come through, and as a result, a tree on my neighbors property fell onto the property we rent. As it fell, it caught two other trees and they fell too. As a result, my husbands truck, which is used for personal business, as well as a work truck for his current job, was damaged.

The tree that fell had previously began to split down the middle. This caused half the tree to lean over the neighbor’s house and the other half to lean over our driveway and house. Our neighbor wrapped a chain around the tree and tightened it with a come-a-long, and had a man come cut the part over his house. He was supposed to have the tree man come back the next week to cut the other half but never did.

The neighbor has been asked about the tree, no response. Our landlord has ran into him in the grocery store 2 or 3 times and he just blows him off. The landlord has called several times but the man won’t answer.

Now the tree has fallen, it crushed the truck, the front of the house is tore up, and we are unable to stay in our home due to the damage, and no electricity.

Since the tree fell, we are paying $136 a night for a motel so our family won’t be homeless, but we are about out of money. We have lost a fridge and freezer of food, and are now having to choose between paying our bills and a place to stay/food to eat.

Is there anything we can do? We’d be grateful for any information.

 

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 Rebecca,

Thank you for your email. You can likely file a claim with your neighbor’s homeowner’s insurance company, and we recommend contacting a local attorney for help.

Liability Claim

If a tree on a person’s property causes an injury to another person, then the homeowner is responsible for the accident if they were negligent.

Negligence is conduct that falls short of what a reasonable person would do to protect another person from a foreseeable risk of harm.

Regarding trees in particular, homeowners have a duty to trim and maintain trees on their property. If an owner knows that a tree is a hazard, and it injures someone else, the owner is negligent and responsible for any losses the injured person suffers.

Here, it’s likely that you can prove that your neighbor was negligent. He knew that the tree created a risk of harm because he cut down the half leaning over his driveway.

Your landlord also informed him of the tree’s potential danger, but your neighbor chose not to listen.

By not taking appropriate action to cut down the half of the tree over your driveway, he failed to act as a reasonable person would.

If you can prove negligence, then the homeowner’s insurance provider should pay for your damages.

Your damages may include: 

  • Lost groceries
  • Repairs to your husband’s trucks
  • Your hotel expenses
  • Other out-of-pocket expenses, like for a laundromat, etc.

Contacting the Insurance Company

Homeowner’s insurance is required by the lender for any home with a mortgage. If your neighbor has a mortgage, then he has a homeowner’s insurance policy.

We recommend that you ask your neighbor for the contact information of his insurer.

Please take advantage of our free Notification Letter Template to advise the homeowner of your injury and ask for their insurance company information.

If your neighbor refuses to disclose his homeowner’s insurance information, you may have to file a lawsuit against the property owner to get it.

The Louisiana Department of Insurance’s website is an excellent resource if you have specific questions on homeowners insurance in the state.

Evidence in Your Claim

After you receive the contact information for your neighbor’s insurance company, you’ll want to file a liability claim.

In this claim, you must provide evidence of all your losses.

Evidence that you’ll want to provide includes:

  • Photos showing the damage to your husband’s trucks and your home
  • Receipts for your hotel expenses
  • Receipts or bank statements that show the amount of food you lost
  • Photos of the tree and its location to your home
  • A statement from your landlord detailing the times he spoke with your neighbor and what was said during the conversations

Get Help from an Attorney

We also recommend that you seek help from an experienced attorney.

From past dealing between your landlord and neighbor, you may have a difficult communicating with the neighbor. He might refuse to provide his insurer’s contact information.

A skilled lawyer can help get this information and even initiate a lawsuit if it’s necessary.

Further, an attorney can help file your claim and negotiate with the insurance adjuster to ensure you get the compensation you and your family deserve.

Learn more here: Homeowner Insurance Injury Claims

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 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,

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