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Neighbor dispute over storm damage

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by Badfish740, Apr 29, 2013.


  1. Do you feel responsible to rake leaves from your trees that falls in a neighbors yard?

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  2. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Well...I don't have neighbors...but, if the leaves destroyed property on the way there, Yeah, probably.

    Don't get me wrong. I don't think badfish is doing anything wrong (I even "liked" his last post), But the Act of God thing is a bit goofy. Would the fence repair be looked upon differently if his lawn tractor was driven through it? Of course it would. I don't find a tree driving through it to be any different. If it was a shared (property line) tree - OK, Maybe, but if the ownership of the tree was clearly his, then I see it a bit different.

    I am obviously in the minority in my thoughts. That is fine. I just saw quite a few "shots" at the neighbor that I found unwarranted (obviously I don't know the guy - maybe he is a jerk). Just fix it (and yes, the Ins cos should be hashing this out. Instances like this is why you have ins).
    firebroad and Badfish740 like this.
  3. Wish I had you as a neighbor when I lived in town. The biggest 'tree' on my property was a 3' lilac bush. Yet I was surrounded by neighbors with huge maple and oak trees. Every year I filled countless bags of leaves. Never once had a neighbor offer to help.
  4. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Wouldn't happen, I won't live "in town".;lol

    Oh - I am not some "saint" or anything like that. I just try to see a "situation" from the other persons perspective and act in a manor that all the best outcomes will be attained. Honestly, if I had a bunch of big oaks raining leaves into your yard, I would be over there helping. It is just who I am.
  5. Badfish740

    Badfish740 Minister of Fire

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    From what I've heard if you can document that the tree was dangerous (ie: visibly rotting, dead, limbs falling, etc...) and that you've warned your neighbor about said condition, and the tree falls, you have a case. In my situation this was a tree that was perfectly healthy and was documented as such by the adjuster. We saw sustained winds of 75 MPH and gusts of up to 90 MPH during the storm. The root system simply couldn't hold the tree in place. It was one of three 50-60 year old maples in the yard that were planted inline with each other, each about 40' apart. It was the middle tree and had the largest crown with the widest spread, which maybe explains why it went and the others did not. I'm glad to have the firewood, but I was sad to lose an otherwise healthy mature tree that probably would have lived 50 more years without a problem.

    I get it, but I guess you could also look at it this way. Let's say you live in the Midwest and a tornado hits your town. We've all seen cars, debris, farm equipment, etc...tossed into houses and homes that have been damaged by flying objects of all kinds that weren't hit by the tornadoes themselves. If a car is picked up 300 yards away by a tornado and dropped on my house, should I be able to sift through the rubble, find the registration, call that person and tell them they are responsible for fixing my house? I'm not trying to be a smartarse here, just playing Devil's advocate. My understanding of the "Act of God" designation is to shield people from being liable for damages they never could have prevented in the first place. I mean sure, I could have moved in five years ago and said, "Hmmmm...those healthy, strong, mature maple trees (which provide shade, make the yard look nice, etc...) could one day come down if a Hurricane makes landfall in NJ-I should probably cut them all down."

    In any event, I e-mailed the guy all of the information on Monday and never got so much as an "Ok, thanks, will let you know what I hear." So I don't know what to think. Hopefully I won't be getting a notice of a lawsuit in the mail in return :p
    firebroad, mikefrommaine and Bster13 like this.
  6. heat seeker

    heat seeker Minister of Fire

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    I agree with Jags' point of view, but the law around here doesn't agree. If a tree falls in your yard, it's yours. Period. You do have the right to trim it along the property line. The tree owner is not responsible unless he knew it was a hazard - hence the possibility of a certified letter to the tree' s owner. My neighbor's tree is aiming for my shed - we'll see what happens when it falls. It'll be my tough luck, I'm sure.
  7. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    That is a very valid point although on a different level of magnitude.
  8. FanMan

    FanMan Feeling the Heat

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    During hurricane Sandy I had a 6" branch drop off a tree just inside my property line and go through my neighbor's roof. This not long after I'd established it was my tree; her boyfriend had attached flagpoles to each of several trees, including this one, all about 2' on my side of the line (he removed them as soon as I told him where the line really was; he assumed the trees were the line). Anyway, I got some tar and aluminum flashing left over from my own roofing project and spent a half hour putting a temporary patch on her roof, then called my insurance company only to learn, as others have said, that I'm not responsible. She called her insurance company, an adjuster came out, and said it wouldn't even come up to the deductible. Since the roof was already in bad shape and needs replacement soon, she's OK with it, and I did my good deed for the day.

    A slightly different situation happened to a guy my daughter worked with. He was the cook at a summer camp and a dead tree at the camp fell and took out his car. Same kind of thing; he wanted the camp to pay and they said no, it was an Act of God... except it turned out the camp director had previously warned somebody else (but not the cook) not to park there as the branch was dead. Since it was established that the camp knew about the bad tree, even though it's a leased property owned by the state, they had to pay.
  9. firebroad

    firebroad Minister of Fire

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    "People who enjoy sausage and respect the Law should never watch either being made."
    yooperdave and Hearth Mistress like this.
  10. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    Ha...I was just getting ready to type the tornado example. You nailed it. (Healthy) Trees are not an eminent hazard, otherwise you wouldn't see them in any urban setting for fear of them spontaneously falling down and braining a pedestrian.

    If that tree has been there for the last 40 or so years, and it took a Huricane/superstorm to bring it down, if that's not an act of god I don't know what is.
  11. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    I never questioned the AOG - I was simply basing it off of ownership. If something of mine damages something of somebody else, I would generally feel obligated to make it right. Whether through insurance (his or mine), personally fixing it, having somebody else fix it, etc. It is just MY feelings. I know what the law says. I know what the ins co's are trying to do, etc.

    I guess there are just more than one way to look at things. It is perfectly within Badfish's rights to follow the letter of the law. If his neighbor is actually blowing smoke about his ins co - shame on him. Yes, the neighbors ins co should make him "whole" again. At the end of the day, badfish's tree broke his neighbors fence.
  12. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

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    maybe the judge will demand restitution for the branches you cleaned up from his yard that you never got paid for doing.
  13. Badfish740

    Badfish740 Minister of Fire

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    ;lol Again, that part I was happy to do whether it was my responsibility or not and wouldn't have taken money if it was offered.
  14. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Badfish - I hope you are taking none of this personal. It is not. I have no doubt in my mind that you are a respectable and upstanding person.

    I was just trying to bring another point of view into the discussion.
    Badfish740 likes this.
  15. Badfish740

    Badfish740 Minister of Fire

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    Not at all...I've been around this place long enough to know that you are a level headed guy who is merely thinking through the facts. It's an interesting discussion. I mean the weird part about it for me is that I initially made the insurance claim with the sole intention of restoring the neighbor's fence because that's how I thought the process worked. I really had no damage save for a small section of cheap wire fence at the back of my yard that belonged to me. I figured that my company's adjuster was going to come out, examine the neighbor's fence, determine the cost to repair, the cost to remove the tree, etc...and reimburse us both somehow. That's why I was utterly confused when I received the adjuster's report that simply said I was getting a check for removal of the tree and the small section of wire fence that belonged to me. That's when I called them back and got the clarification and they informed me about what the whole "act of god" thing means, etc...
    Jags likes this.
  16. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

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    Yeah I hope you're not losing any sleep over this guy.

    Seems to me, If he has a beef it's with his agent or ins co not you.

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