Yesterday’s dramatic storm poses this question for homeowners: If a tree falls in a neighborhood, does it make a sound? You bet! It sounds like this: “@%@^#$”

What happens if a neighbor’s tree falls on your house? Which insurance company will foot the bill?

Damage to property from falling trees or branches

Springfield tornado
Every time a storm flies through, wreaking havoc with falling branches, my clients start calling about who is liable. Here’s the short answer, courtesy of Attorney Richard Vetstein.

“The short answer is that, legally speaking, your neighbor is not liable for a healthy tree falling down during a major storm event. That is considered an ‘Act of God’ for which no one is legally liable… So, you will have to make a claim under your homeowner’s insurance policy for the damage caused by the neighbor’s tree.”

Tree on a house

If the tree is unhealthy and it falls, the responsibility is on the owner of the sick tree and the insurance company that is covering their property.

Leaves and debris from overhanging trees

Even in good weather, trees can lead to legal disputes between neighbors.

According to a 1983 case, it is not the responsibility of the tree’s owner to clear leaves or debris that falls from a healthy tree onto the neighbor’s yard. The neighbor does have the right to cut branches that overhang their property.