If my tree causes damage or injury, can I be sued?
If you are deemed negligent, then YES!
A tree owner has a general duty of care under the law. You may be considered negligent if you fail to act when the potential for harm was foreseeable, or if you ignored a warning about the tree.
Evaluating the danger a tree presents, whether by its state of health or by its situation, is called Tree Risk Assessment. Some of most common problems are:
• When a tree grows too big for its surroundings, and branches reach overhead cables, or windows, or buildings.
• When the join between branch and trunk is under stress and gives way.
• The roots are damaged by erosion, disease or construction work, causing the tree to become unstable.
• Natural aging or disease.
Catastrophic failure of a tree or tree branches often occurs at a time of extreme weather conditions, especially storm-force winds. Autumn is the best time of year to perform a preventative tree inspection, ahead of winter storms. And trees should be checked after any major storm to look for signs of damage and impending trouble.
A Tree Risk Assessment can be performed by the tree owner but if any concerns arise, then a professional Arborist / Tree Surgeon should be consulted. A history of obtaining formal tree inspection reports is excellent protection against any liability claims.
A tree owner has another legal obligation too! It is an offence to disturb nesting wild birds, and other wildlife have rights of occupancy too, so beware the time of year you choose to do any tree work. Again, if in doubt, Contact a Tree Surgeon for advice.
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