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Posted: 6/17/2014 11:31:51 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 6/17/2014 11:34:26 AM EDT by waafist]
As the title says, their large tree fell on my fence and clipped my gutter. I've filed a claim with my HOI. Here's my circumstances leading up to it. They had a tree service call me back in May saying they needed to remove the tree, and that they'd contact me at a later time about turning off my power. Beginning of June they call me and tell me they need to turn off my power on the 12th for 6 hours. My gf works nights, was working the night of the 11th and was going to work the night of the 12th. I told the tree company that I wouldn't grant permission to turn off my power because it might be too hot and she needed her rest because she works in a critical care job. I told them I didn't mind them working from my property as long as they didn't damage anything or unhook the power, but if they needed to turn off the power, then they'd need to reschedule for a cooler time. Then, the tree fell on the 15th.

I have a $2,000 insurance deductible, plus whatever costs the insurance company won't cover, and then, if I take them to small claims court, court fees and probably a lawyer consultation if it costs me anything. My costs will be tree removal (the part that fell on my property), fence repair, and gutter replacement for that whole side of the house. From what I've read, I have no recourse unless I can prove that the owners knew that the tree was a problem. As far as proof, I have a note the tree company left for me with no date written on it, but it's on an envelope with his business card attached. I also have activity on my cell phone bill logs where I can show when phone correspondence commenced between us. I am wondering, will this be enough to take to small claims court to recoup my deductible and expenses from the owner of the house? They don't live in the house, haven't for the 5 years I've been there, and another neighbor told me it'd been empty for 25 before that. Do I have a shot of coming out of this with no loss of money if I take them to small claims court? Can I count on my insurance company to sue their insurance company on my behalf? Or am I screwed? I'm having to cash in some 401K because I just don't have the money handy, so I'm going to get hit with major penalties and a higher taxable income for the year, but I doubt a judge would award damages for that. I was lucky that the tree didn't come down on my bedroom, we were asleep when it fell.


ETA: My first thought would be, if I have a winnable case, to request from them, either by letter from me, or from an attorney, that they pay the damages that I am out of pocket for, and be done with it. I'd rather settle than take them to court. I haven't heard word one from them. Not even to ask if we're ok.
Link Posted: 6/17/2014 1:18:02 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 6/17/2014 4:27:18 PM EDT by bacpck]
Ok, I know this depends on where you live etc.

For us here in Virginia, tree falls from neighbors yard kills my fence and brushes my house tears off gutter. It is my responsibility unless neighbor knew the tree was a problem and was negligent in removing it. This is of course a very hard thing to prove. In your situation you would probably be good however, they tried to get the tree cut down in good faith. It is out of your neighbors control that the tree service believed the power needed to be turned off to drop the tree. You told them they could not do it at that time and insisted they delay until cooler weather.

You are probably stuck with your bill. Your best bet is to claim in on your HOI then it is out of your hand with regards to them going after your neighbors HOI.

You probably will not win anything in small claims court because, good faith on their part to get the tree removed and you blocked it (as is your right). Your neighbors should not be held responsible because you would not allow the work to be completed.

I am not saying you did anything wrong but witnesses and documentation to the above will most likely mean you are out of luck. It is highly unlikely that given the circumstance your HOI will even go after theirs. The laws in your state may change any of this.

If you drag the tree guy in court he will tell the whole story.. ie the tree could have been dropped on the 12th and the guy suing said no..

btw not a lawyer.. the neighbors tree destroying my fence and gutter happened to me. Just imo...

Link Posted: 6/17/2014 10:40:40 PM EDT
How much is a section of fence and a piece of gutter going to cost?
Why take money out of a 401K for a non-emergency? Save up and get it fixed later.
I agree with the above: they tried to remove the hazard — you refused.
Link Posted: 6/18/2014 5:31:01 AM EDT
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Originally Posted By bacpck:
Ok, I know this depends on where you live etc.

For us here in Virginia, tree falls from neighbors yard kills my fence and brushes my house tears off gutter. It is my responsibility unless neighbor knew the tree was a problem and was negligent in removing it. This is of course a very hard thing to prove. In your situation you would probably be good however, they tried to get the tree cut down in good faith. It is out of your neighbors control that the tree service believed the power needed to be turned off to drop the tree. You told them they could not do it at that time and insisted they delay until cooler weather.

You are probably stuck with your bill. Your best bet is to claim in on your HOI then it is out of your hand with regards to them going after your neighbors HOI.

You probably will not win anything in small claims court because, good faith on their part to get the tree removed and you blocked it (as is your right). Your neighbors should not be held responsible because you would not allow the work to be completed.

I am not saying you did anything wrong but witnesses and documentation to the above will most likely mean you are out of luck. It is highly unlikely that given the circumstance your HOI will even go after theirs. The laws in your state may change any of this.

If you drag the tree guy in court he will tell the whole story.. ie the tree could have been dropped on the 12th and the guy suing said no..

btw not a lawyer.. the neighbors tree destroying my fence and gutter happened to me. Just imo...

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Yep ....what this guy said.

Here in NY whatever happens on your side of the fence is your responsibility unless you could prove gross negligence(good luck).
We had a huge tree in our yard fall into a neighbors yard. A tree guy gave us a price to remove it and that was only for the portion in OUR yard.
Link Posted: 6/18/2014 5:53:38 AM EDT
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Originally Posted By veritas_rasa:
How much is a section of fence and a piece of gutter going to cost?
Why take money out of a 401K for a non-emergency? Save up and get it fixed later.
I agree with the above: they tried to remove the hazard — you refused.
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Tree removal too. So far, it's $2500 for the fence and $1300 for the tree removal. The tree is leaning partially on the house and laying on the fence. I haven't gotten a quote for the gutters yet. Financially I'm still recovering from another issue, so I'm just starting to rebuild my savings. I'm in a hurry to get the fence rebuilt because I have two big dogs that need to have the space to run and burn off some energy.

I worried it might be seen as good faith on their part. Thanks guys.
Link Posted: 6/18/2014 6:08:21 AM EDT
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Originally Posted By waafist:
Tree removal too. So far, it's $2500 for the fence and $1300 for the tree removal. The tree is leaning partially on the house and laying on the fence. I haven't gotten a quote for the gutters yet. Financially I'm still recovering from another issue, so I'm just starting to rebuild my savings. I'm in a hurry to get the fence rebuilt because I have two big dogs that need to have the space to run and burn off some energy.

I worried it might be seen as good faith on their part. Thanks guys.
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Originally Posted By waafist:
Originally Posted By veritas_rasa:
How much is a section of fence and a piece of gutter going to cost?
Why take money out of a 401K for a non-emergency? Save up and get it fixed later.
I agree with the above: they tried to remove the hazard — you refused.
Tree removal too. So far, it's $2500 for the fence and $1300 for the tree removal. The tree is leaning partially on the house and laying on the fence. I haven't gotten a quote for the gutters yet. Financially I'm still recovering from another issue, so I'm just starting to rebuild my savings. I'm in a hurry to get the fence rebuilt because I have two big dogs that need to have the space to run and burn off some energy.

I worried it might be seen as good faith on their part. Thanks guys.



Ouch, yea I know it hurts. We had to fight to get the insurance company to get our fence fixed (our fence was a brand new replacement, less than three months old). We had to hurry as well so our dog would not get out.
Link Posted: 6/18/2014 6:30:57 AM EDT
I know this sucks. Doesn't this fall under act of God? The other thing is if you had a significant wind event or storm, some HOI don't cover wind damages.
Link Posted: 6/18/2014 6:46:08 AM EDT
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Originally Posted By 13starsinax:
I know this sucks. Doesn't this fall under act of God? The other thing is if you had a significant wind event or storm, some HOI don't cover wind damages.
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To me, that is such a BS law. I took the time and money to have all the large pine trees around my house removed, they are notorious for falling over in high winds during dry summers. My neighbor has 8 huge pine trees right on the line between our houses, 2 of them are dead. They would hit my house if they fell my direction. I have approached him many times with my concern and I always get "oh, I got someone coming out here next week to take them down". If his shit on his property, falls on my house and damages it, he should be liable no matter what in my opinion.
Link Posted: 6/18/2014 6:46:56 AM EDT
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Originally Posted By 13starsinax:
I know this sucks. Doesn't this fall under act of God? The other thing is if you had a significant wind event or storm, some HOI don't cover wind damages.
View Quote


Fortunately I'm not having to fight my own HOI, and I will hopefully only be out the $2k deductible + a small amount to cover what insurance won't, but that all depends on how much they cover for each repair. For instance, for tree removal they'll only cover up to $500, but they'll also cover a portion for cutting it free of the fence. For the fence they prorate the coverage based on the age of the fence vs the expected life of the fence. It's 5 years old with an expected life of 20 years, so they may only cover 75% of the cost. I won't know what they'll cover until I send them quotes from the contractors. The neighbors tree guy tried to get me to agree to have him do it so he could just finish up the job for the neighbor. He wanted $2700 for the tree removal. I told him I'd be finding someone a little more reasonable. I had a guy remove a dead pine tree for me earlier this spring for $60, so I gave him a call. I'd rather kick him $1000+ or so than a guy that tried to gouge me because he happened to be there, and it'd be more convenient for him to remove the tree while his crew was on site.
Link Posted: 6/18/2014 6:48:56 AM EDT
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Originally Posted By badeffect10:
To me, that is such a BS law. I took the time and money to have all the large pine trees around my house removed, they are notorious for falling over in high winds during dry summers. My neighbor has 8 huge pine trees right on the line between our houses, 2 of them are dead. They would hit my house if they fell my direction. I have approached him many times with my concern and I always get "oh, I got someone coming out here next week to take them down". If his shit on his property, falls on my house and damages it, he should be liable no matter what in my opinion.
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Originally Posted By badeffect10:
Originally Posted By 13starsinax:
I know this sucks. Doesn't this fall under act of God? The other thing is if you had a significant wind event or storm, some HOI don't cover wind damages.
To me, that is such a BS law. I took the time and money to have all the large pine trees around my house removed, they are notorious for falling over in high winds during dry summers. My neighbor has 8 huge pine trees right on the line between our houses, 2 of them are dead. They would hit my house if they fell my direction. I have approached him many times with my concern and I always get "oh, I got someone coming out here next week to take them down". If his shit on his property, falls on my house and damages it, he should be liable no matter what in my opinion.

What I'm finding from my research on this, you would be well served to pay an attorney $100 to write a letter and send it certified mail expressing your concern over his trees. From what I've read, if I had proof that they knew about the issue and hadn't done anything then my neighbors would be paying for everything.
Link Posted: 6/18/2014 7:15:58 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 6/18/2014 7:20:25 AM EDT by bacpck]
So apparently my reading comprehension sucks on my phone......

I agree with the above, you need to document your situation. The fact that you and the neighbor have discussed this and he has made claims that he is getting it taken care of puts you in a good position if you have an issue. I would try and get some sort of official documentation of the situation and your discussions with the neighbor.

If he knows the trees are dead and a danger to your property or others he is putting himself in a situation where he is liable.
Link Posted: 6/18/2014 7:23:19 AM EDT
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Originally Posted By waafist:

What I'm finding from my research on this, you would be well served to pay an attorney $100 to write a letter and send it certified mail expressing your concern over his trees. From what I've read, if I had proof that they knew about the issue and hadn't done anything then my neighbors would be paying for everything.
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Originally Posted By waafist:
Originally Posted By badeffect10:
Originally Posted By 13starsinax:
I know this sucks. Doesn't this fall under act of God? The other thing is if you had a significant wind event or storm, some HOI don't cover wind damages.
To me, that is such a BS law. I took the time and money to have all the large pine trees around my house removed, they are notorious for falling over in high winds during dry summers. My neighbor has 8 huge pine trees right on the line between our houses, 2 of them are dead. They would hit my house if they fell my direction. I have approached him many times with my concern and I always get "oh, I got someone coming out here next week to take them down". If his shit on his property, falls on my house and damages it, he should be liable no matter what in my opinion.

What I'm finding from my research on this, you would be well served to pay an attorney $100 to write a letter and send it certified mail expressing your concern over his trees. From what I've read, if I had proof that they knew about the issue and hadn't done anything then my neighbors would be paying for everything.
That probably will be my next step. I try to believe that a persons word still means something around where I live, with most people it still does, but its obvious this guy is blowing smoke up my ass or just plain lying to me. We had problems with his crazy crack head girlfriend when they first moved in, so I didn't really push the issue to much. With child number 2 on the way that will be sleeping on that side of the house, its time to do something about it.
Link Posted: 6/18/2014 7:31:58 AM EDT
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Originally Posted By bacpck:
So apparently my reading comprehension sucks on my phone......

I agree with the above, you need to document your situation. The fact that you and the neighbor have discussed this and he has made claims that he is getting it taken care of puts you in a good position if you have an issue. I would try and get some sort of official documentation of the situation and your discussions with the neighbor.

If he knows the trees are dead and a danger to your property or others he is putting himself in a situation where he is liable.
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No, I think your reading comprehension is good, and I think you were right in your first post. Since they had an appointment to remove the tree and I wouldn't let them turn off my power I think they would use the good faith argument and win. I never talked to anyone but the tree guy, and that was the only reason I know they knew the tree had a problem, but I wasn't the one that brought it to their attention, just in badeffect10's situation he knows his neighbor's tree is bad and documentation will help in the long run if things go south. I'll probably sit down with an attorney just in case for my situation, but in all likelihood I'm out the $2000 or so and I can count my lucky stars that the tree didn't come down in the bedroom and kill us. So, it could have been worse.
Link Posted: 6/18/2014 7:42:31 AM EDT
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Originally Posted By badeffect10:
To me, that is such a BS law. I took the time and money to have all the large pine trees around my house removed, they are notorious for falling over in high winds during dry summers. My neighbor has 8 huge pine trees right on the line between our houses, 2 of them are dead. They would hit my house if they fell my direction. I have approached him many times with my concern and I always get "oh, I got someone coming out here next week to take them down". If his shit on his property, falls on my house and damages it, he should be liable no matter what in my opinion.
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Originally Posted By badeffect10:
Originally Posted By 13starsinax:
I know this sucks. Doesn't this fall under act of God? The other thing is if you had a significant wind event or storm, some HOI don't cover wind damages.
To me, that is such a BS law. I took the time and money to have all the large pine trees around my house removed, they are notorious for falling over in high winds during dry summers. My neighbor has 8 huge pine trees right on the line between our houses, 2 of them are dead. They would hit my house if they fell my direction. I have approached him many times with my concern and I always get "oh, I got someone coming out here next week to take them down". If his shit on his property, falls on my house and damages it, he should be liable no matter what in my opinion.



I cannot imagine the dead trees falling being considered an "Act of God" - live trees sure, but not the dead ones.
Link Posted: 6/18/2014 10:40:24 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 6/18/2014 10:44:58 AM EDT by Shermantor-AR15]
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Originally Posted By TStick:



I cannot imagine the dead trees falling being considered an "Act of God" - live trees sure, but not the dead ones.
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Originally Posted By TStick:
Originally Posted By badeffect10:
Originally Posted By 13starsinax:
I know this sucks. Doesn't this fall under act of God? The other thing is if you had a significant wind event or storm, some HOI don't cover wind damages.
To me, that is such a BS law. I took the time and money to have all the large pine trees around my house removed, they are notorious for falling over in high winds during dry summers. My neighbor has 8 huge pine trees right on the line between our houses, 2 of them are dead. They would hit my house if they fell my direction. I have approached him many times with my concern and I always get "oh, I got someone coming out here next week to take them down". If his shit on his property, falls on my house and damages it, he should be liable no matter what in my opinion.



I cannot imagine the dead trees falling being considered an "Act of God" - live trees sure, but not the dead ones.

The only way you'll be able to sue and win in court is if you send your neighbor a letter by certifed mail: In the letter list the trees and put they are a hazzard or danger to you and your home etc... No letter will result in act of god...

The neighor upon receiving the letter has the option to do the the following:
1. Nothing
2. Have them taken down and removed
3. Have a certified Arborist come out and inpect the trees, if they are found to be healthy the neighbor doesn't have to remove them
4. Have a certified Arborist come out and inpect the trees, if they are found to be un-healthy diseased etc..., he can take them down or not, if he takes them down he falls back into 2 if not it falls back to 1.

So a few months after the letter has been sent a storm etc.. comes by and the neighbor went for option 1 and the tree falls down on your house in most cases you can sue and be awarded up to 3 or 4 times the damages amount. If it turns out to be option 3 (healthy trees and didn't have them removed) it is still considered an act of god and the neighbor is still not liable.

I once owned some land and only after about the 2nd to 4th tree that felll and destroyed their car or truck did they contact me via Certified Mail. According to the letter I guess this was after a previous tree had fell and damaged their house they also listed dates etc... before I even owned the property LOL. I didn't do anything till I received a letter from them via certfied mail, I called a tree service guy and he went out there and removed all the suspected damaged/diseased trees and left all the healthy ones alone. So the only money that came out of my pocket was for the tree guy, plus I didn't have insurance on the property because it was undevloped land and not required to have insurance.
Link Posted: 6/18/2014 1:02:16 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 6/18/2014 1:02:34 PM EDT by brickeyee]
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Originally Posted By badeffect10:
To me, that is such a BS law. I took the time and money to have all the large pine trees around my house removed, they are notorious for falling over in high winds during dry summers. My neighbor has 8 huge pine trees right on the line between our houses, 2 of them are dead. They would hit my house if they fell my direction. I have approached him many times with my concern and I always get "oh, I got someone coming out here next week to take them down". If his shit on his property, falls on my house and damages it, he should be liable no matter what in my opinion.
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Originally Posted By badeffect10:
Originally Posted By 13starsinax:
I know this sucks. Doesn't this fall under act of God? The other thing is if you had a significant wind event or storm, some HOI don't cover wind damages.
To me, that is such a BS law. I took the time and money to have all the large pine trees around my house removed, they are notorious for falling over in high winds during dry summers. My neighbor has 8 huge pine trees right on the line between our houses, 2 of them are dead. They would hit my house if they fell my direction. I have approached him many times with my concern and I always get "oh, I got someone coming out here next week to take them down". If his shit on his property, falls on my house and damages it, he should be liable no matter what in my opinion.


Send him formal notice, registered mail with a signature.
Keep a copy.

A verbal agreement is worth the paper it's not printed on.
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