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Personal Injuries in Accidents Caused by Falling Trees

Falling TreeEarly in February, a driver traveling in Pacific Beach was tragically killed when a strong wind knocked a tree over onto a private road and crushed her vehicle. Three other parked cars were also struck by the oak tree, which was approximately eight feet in diameter. California is home to many large and beautiful trees, and, while this can be an advantage to many property owners during the hot summer months, it can also be potentially dangerous if not properly maintained.

Causes of Tree Collapse

There are a variety of potential causes behind a tree’s collapse, including:

  • The failure to trim branches;
  • The improper planting of the tree;
  • The failure to monitor for disease; and
  • The failure to treat for disease.

Property owners are required to conduct reasonable inspections of their land in order to discover any potential hazards, including any trees on the property.

Dangers Posed by Falling Trees

Whether a tree is weakened by disease, struck by lightning, or pushed over by a strong wind, its collapse can cause a number of dangers to passersby, including:

  • Direct impact from falling branches;
  • Electrocution caused by a branch striking a power line;
  • Car accidents caused by trees falling in roadways;
  • Tripping hazards created by tree roots damaging sidewalks; and
  • Poor visibility and mobility for both pedestrians and drivers caused by unmaintained foliage.
Personal Injury

Cases involving injuries caused by falling trees are governed by the rules of premises liability. In order to recover for this type of injury, the victim will need to show that:

  • The property owner had legal responsibility for the tree;
  • The property owner negligently maintained the tree, resulting in a dangerous condition;
  • The victim was harmed; and
  • The tree’s dangerous condition caused the victim’s injury.

To establish negligence, the victim will need to show that the property owner knew or should have known that the tree constituted a hazard.


In California, trees that stand completely upon the land of an owner belong exclusively to him or her. This requires that the entire trunk be located on the property, although it is not necessary that the roots remain upon the owner’s land. Even if the roots grow onto a neighbor’s property, the landowner with the trunk of the tree on his or her property will still be liable for any injuries caused by its collapse. However, if a tree’s trunk stands partly on the land of two or more landowners, the tree will belong to them in common, and liability will be shared.

If you were injured by a falling tree, whether due to a direct impact from a falling branch, electric shock, or a car accident caused by its obstruction of the street, you may be entitled to damages that will compensate you for your injuries, medical costs, lost wages, and emotional trauma. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to get you started on the road to recovery. Please contact the dedicated Monterey personal injury attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. for a free consultation today.

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