Injuries From Falling Tree Limbs

The front page of today's New York Times contains an article about lawsuits arising from falling tree limbs in New York City. Injuries from falling tree limbs is only likely to rise for a number of reasons. NYC is on a mission to plant a million trees, and is halfway to that goal. However, they have at the same time slashed the funding for tree pruning and inspection. Over the past few years the budget to prune trees has shrunk from $4.7 million to $1.75 million, and the frequency between tree inspections by experts has increased from 7 years to 15 years. Most trees outside of Central Park are only checked by park workers with no tree inspection experience or training, and usually only report that limbs have already fallen or limbs or trees that are clearly dead. One park worker admitted that "We are a complaint-generated organization. So, we only inspect any complaints that come in." An owner of land with a tree on it, including the City of New York, is responsible for maintenance of that tree and can be held liable for damages caused by falling limbs where the owner has actual or constructive notice of a dangerous condition. Thus, a property owner can be held liable for a falling tree or limb if they are aware of its dangerous condition, or if they would have been aware had they made a proper inspection of the tree. Evidence of a tree's dangerous condition can be seen by the existence of cavities, dead branches, signs of fungus, signs of decay, or evidence of insect infestation, among other conditions. Because of the weight of larger branches, and the distance they may fall while traveling, a falling branch or tree can do serious harm. One case discussed in the New York Times Article involves an accident in July 2007 when a tree limb fell on a young woman walking her dog in a NYC Park, causing serious injuries. The tree upon subsequent inspection showed obvious signs of decay or inspection, but the City Park workers never properly inspected the tree before the accident. The City sought to dismiss the case, but in December 2011 an Appellate Court denied the motion. After losing the motion, the City settled the case for $4 Million. If you or someone you know are injured in an accident from a falling tree or tree limb you should contact a lawyer to discuss your rights. Zalman Schnurman & Miner is an experience personal injury law firm that handles all types of injury cases. Consultations are always free, and all cases are handled on a contingency fee basis. Call 1-800-LAWLINE (1-800-529-5463) for a free consultation concerning personal injury matters.

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