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HURRICANE SANDY'S AFTERMATH: A PROPERTY OWNER'S DUTY TO PROTECT OTHERS FROM DAMAGED TREES

Hurricane Sandy has wreaked havoc across the Northeast. Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island have been particularly damaged by the storm as flooding, fires, and fallen debris have left many areas resembling war zones. Experts are predicting that it will take years for some areas to fully recover.

In the wake of such devastation, I am sure that you will find little material concerning a property owner's legal duty to care for damaged trees on their property. However, anyone who has been to Queens, Brooklyn or Long Island has become somberly aware of the tragedies that can accompany fallen limbs. Now, in the aftermath of Sandy, the region is littered with severely damaged trees, many of which have the potential to cause victims severe personal injury.

If you are personally injured by a fallen tree limb, you may be entitled to recover monetary damages from the owner of the property upon which the tree rest. When assessing liability for harms caused by a fallen tree, it must first be determined whether the tree fell as a result of a "defective" condition. If the tree was not in a defective condition and fell as a result of unpredictable storm damage, no liability will attach to the property owner.

If in fact the tree was in a defective condition and such condition was at least partially responsible for the tree falling, a further inquiry must be made into whether the landowner had "notice" of the defective condition. A municipality or private landowner has notice of a defective tree if indicia of decay or disease are observable upon ordinary inspection. A landowner is not required to be a tree expert, however, if a defect is readily observable, a property owner required to take reasonable steps to prevent harm.

Hurricane Sandy left many homes throughout the region in ruins. In light of the devastation, a simple task such as removing a visibly damaged tree may appear insignificant. However, as trivial as it may seem, a property owner has a duty to take reasonable steps to ensure that damaged trees on their property do not cause harm to others. If they fail to do so, and an individual is personally injured as a result, that victim is entitled to compensation.

To speak to an experienced attorney that can guide you through your injury litigation please contact us our managing partner, Anthony Licatesi for a free consultation. There is no fee unless successful.

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