Trees Could Pose Legal Liability For Property Owners - - The News for South Mississippi

Trees Could Pose Legal Liability For Property Owners

While waiting for a tree removal service to arrive, Janet Hill showed us the damaged and dying trees that worry her. 

"I'm going to take this tree down because this is on my lot, but the other ones right through here, the tall ones that are dying or are dead, my neighbor has agreed to take them down. Because they're tall enough if they fall, they could hit my house and cause damage, and from what I understand, she would be responsible for any damage that was done to my house," Hill says.

Another of Hill's neighbors, attorney Tim Holleman, says she's right. But he says many people don't know they can be legally liable for trees that create a public danger. 

Holleman says, "I think people believe because it's an act of God they're not responsible for it, and I think that's a rumor that's not correct. If you know of a condition, whether it be a hole in the ground or a dead tree on your property, and it's dangerous and you don't remedy it and you don't exercise reasonable care to remedy it, you can be responsible if that tree fell and hurt somebody."

Broken, dying trees are everywhere on the coast.

Tree removal business owner Ken Wilkinson says, " There's a lot of pine beetles moving in on these broken limbs and stuff and it's just a lot of hazardous trees."

Holleman says spending the few hundred bucks to cut a tree down now will save property owners a lot of legal hassles later.

by Marcia Hill

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