While healthy trees add value to your property, they can cost you if improperly cared for. As a property owner, you have a legal duty to inspect your trees for defects that may result in harming people that visit your property. This legal obligation is known as “duty of care” and applies to municipalities and their trees on public property, and also applies to private landowners as well.
Avoid Being Held Liable In Case Of Injuries Or Damages
The safety of guests and employees on your property should be one of your top concerns. Duty of care means that you, as a property and business owner, have a responsibility to ensure that the trees on your property are maintained in a way that creates an environment with acceptable levels of risk.
If a tree damages someone’s property or injures them, you could be held liable if there is a lawsuit – especially if the tree was damaged or diseased and you neglected to resolve the issue. For example, if a tree was damaged during construction and you failed to remove or treat it, you could be held responsible if it fell on someone’s car during a windy day.
On the other hand, by performing your duty of care and properly maintaining the trees on your property, you are taking steps to ensure the safety of visitors while reducing your liability.
Insurance Will Cover Trees That Were Cared For Properly
If your tree falls onto your neighbor’s property and causes damage, their insurance will typically cover their loss. However, if you didn’t perform your duty of care and neglected proper tree care, you may be held liable for damages. Your insurance may deny a claim if you have been negligent in the inspection and care of obvious defects on your trees.
Remember, even if a tree looks healthy, it can still pose a hazard. That’s why performing regular tree risk assessments and maintenance is an important part of being a property owner.
What About “Acts Of God”?
Storms are inevitable and uncontrollable events that can damage the trees on your property, also known as “Acts of God”. If your tree was maintained and a storm uprooted it or broke off branches and damaged property, you will typically not be held liable because you were diligent in your duty of care in ensuring the health and integrity of your trees before the storm.
Your trees are an investment. By performing your duty of care as a property owner, you can ensure that your trees are maintained and the people on your property are safe.
A Professional Tree Service Can Help
Performing your duty of care does not have to be difficult. In fact, it’s recommended that you not perform maintenance like tree removal and pruning yourself to avoid injury and ensure everything is completed properly. Consider hiring a professional to:
- Inspect trees and assess risk
- Remove trees that are damaged
- Perform maintenance that includes mulching, fertilizing, or pruning
- Diagnose and treat for pests and disease