Everybody gets along with their neighbors until one of their trees or heavy limbs comes crashing down on your property! “Good neighbors can quickly become bitter neighbors when property damage and money enter the relationship,” said Thomas Bumgardner of Ballantyne Legal. “The North Carolina law is fairly straightforward when it comes to what you can rightfully claim for damages, unless it is a deliberate act, then that is a different matter all together.”
If the fallen tree or limbs were the fault of a natural occurrence or an Act of God, the property owner is not generally held responsible for the damage. However, if the fallen tree or limb is because of homeowner neglect, then there is a legal cause for damages and recovery.
“Generally, if there are dangerous tree limbs hanging over your property from your neighbor’s property, you should speak with them first about trimming or cutting the offending limbs off,” says Bumgardner. “Technically speaking, if the limbs are hanging over your property boundary, and they could be a danger, you have the right to trim or cut those limbs. But the best advice is to always talk with your neighbor to find the best way to keep the tree healthy and satisfy your concerns.”
The law of fallen trees in North Carolina is based primarily on the legal theory of negligence. “This theory of negligence means that you would need to have known about the weakness of the tree limb prior to it falling on your neighbor’s property and causing damage,” adds Bumgardner. “And if you had the knowledge and you knew it was a danger, then it is your responsibility, at least according to the legal theory of negligence.”
How to Protect Yourself Against Tree Damage
There are generally two efficient ways to protect yourself against possible legal claims or trouble from trees and limbs on your property that can damage your neighbor’s property or vice versa.
- Professionally remove trees on your property that are dead or present a hazard that could damage your neighbor’s property, and;
- If your neighbor has a dangerous tree, preferably write them a letter asking them to resolve the issue. The written letter helps protect you of any responsibility for damage should the tree actually fall onto your property.
We at Ballantyne Legal can help in all types of legal challenges that affect you and your family. We do help everyday homeowners and residents with their legal issues and challenges. If you feel like you need professional legal assistance, please contact us at Ballantyne Legal at (704) 870-4779 or contact us. We want to help you stand up for what’s fair.