If your neighbour's tree falls in your yard, who pays?

April 16, 2018
Article Source
Toronto Star

During last month's ice storm your neighbour's tree fell and damaged your house. So, who pays?

For most of us, this should be covered under a homeowner insurance policy, whether the branches are from your trees or your neighbour's. If you have all perils coverage, you may also claim for any damages caused to your car as well.

But it's not always that clear-cut, as the following case shows:

Ted Doucette and Daina Parent were neighbours in Sturgeon Falls, Ontario. During a late November windstorm in 1991, a 60-foot poplar in Parent's yard, about five feet from the boundary, snapped. The tree fell on Doucette's fence, his snowmobile trailer and his motor home. He sued for damages.

A court later heard that an arborist believed the tree broke because of internal decay. You would not have been able to notice this by looking at the tree, even though it did have some dead branches.

In a 1996 decision, Justice George Valin of the Ontario Superior Court ruled that Parent was not responsible for the damages.

He argued:

"A property owner must take steps to ensure that trees located on his/her property are not hazardous to others," he said. "It would seem to me that an owner can be held liable for failing to maintain a tree where the exterior of the tree provides sufficient warning signals. The signals would include general deterioration, a scarred trunk, discoloured bark, and a large amount of defoliation or dead branches."

Read more: If your neighbour's tree falls in your yard, who pays?