We all know the ancient philosophical phrase “if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to see it doesn’t make a sound?”   What happens when a tree falls in a hurricane? It made me think after Hurricane Irma I had a fallen tree on my fence that caused damage. The tree was on the city’s property encroaching over my property line.

This is really law school 101. But since I started law school about 18 years ago, I had to do some research as to who really is responsible. I found a great resource from the University of Florida, called “the handbook of Florida fence and property law: trees and land owner responsibility”.   This handbook cuts to the chase as to who is responsible for situations as described above.

Landowner Responsibility

You cannot remove a HEALTHY tree on a boundary line without the adjoining landowners permission.   The removal of a tree without permission could result in damages for the loss of the ornamental value creatures comforts provided by the tree.   However, branches and roots that extend across the property line may be trimmed by the adjoining land of as they desire.

If he tree is not healthy, or dead, the landowner for which the tree is on is responsible for any damage caused by the tree.   It is your responsibility to let the landowner know that their tree is dad or not healthy. Don’t wait until it’s too late and damage has already caused.

What Should I Do?

Looking at my scenario, I need to determine, or have determine whether or not the tree that broke in the hurricane and caused damage was a healthy tree. If it was not a healthy tree I could submit a claim to the city for which I live. If it is a healthy tree, I am unfortunately stuck with the repairs.

In the Future

Moving forward with this information I will make sure I trim any tree that is in good healthy condition prior to any storm coming our way. This will reduce any chance of damage to my property. I suggest you do the same. I would give you a bit of caution. Before trimming any trees that are on your neighbor’s property, give them a heads up. Show them the handbook I have referenced above. This way you can show them that you’re doing your responsibility, and you are not just trimming their trees.

Hurricane Damage

if you are reading this because you have suffered damage from Hurricane Irma, I want you to know I am teaming up with the Law Office of Adelman & Adelman to help them process their hurricane claims. Go to www.hurricanelawflorida.com and www.hurricanelawfl.com to see how we can help you in your time of need. We will be serving the entire South Florida area from Miami-Dade County through Palm Beach County.   Even if you have the claims process started, we can assist on a contingency fee basis for any dispute you have with your insurance company.

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