This winter has certainly been a wet and wild one for Northern California so far this season. The Sacramento Valley, in particular, has seen some extraordinary winter weather and the third week of January brought with it incredibly strong winds that have left the Sacramento area rebuilding on this Thursday, January 19, 2017. High winds were reported across the Valley, with the strongest gust coming in at an intense 63mph, which was reported at the Sacramento International Airport. 50mph gusts were reported across the region, and reports from SMUD indicate that almost 50,000 people in the immediate Sacramento region suffered power outages last night and early this morning as a result of downed power lines.
Power wasn’t the only thing people lost last night, many individual’s homes, vehicles, and other personal property were damaged in the high winds, and one vehicle was actually struck by a falling tree on the corner of 19th and X streets in Sacramento. In El Dorado Hills, multiple reports came in of trees being uprooted and falling onto houses and cars as a result of intense wind. Downed trees were also responsible for road closures across Northern California, and Highway 160 was closed from Highway 12 up to the Antioch bridge as a result of downed trees blocking the roadway.
All this crazy weather and the damage associated with it might have you thinking who will be paying for all of this property damage and personal injury. Lucky for you, the Sacramento personal injury attorneys at The Weinberger Law Firm are taking the time to explain a few important items pertaining to liability in these scenarios. First, we will explain how to determine who owns the tree.
California Civil Code Section 833 states that if the trunk of a tree stands wholly on the land of one landowner, that landowner owns the tree regardless of whether its roots, foliage, or branches have grown onto the land of another. California Civil Code Section 834 states that if the trunk of a tree stands partly on the land of two adjoining landowners, then both landowners own the tree. Now that ownership has been attributed, you can attempt to determine liability and whether you or the tree owner’s insurance policy will cover anything.
- What happens if my tree falls onto my house or property?
- What happens if my neighbor’s tree falls onto my house or property?
- What happens if my tree falls onto my neighbor’s house or property?
Acts of God and Liability
The above are questions that are floating around in the minds of thousands of Northern Californians today, and they are not always easy to answer. The main question to ask when determining liability and coverage for damage caused by a fallen tree is whether the tree toppled due to “an act of God” (a term used by insurance companies) or it was related to negligence. The term “act of God” is used to describe events that take place in which a property owner has no control over the situation. An extreme wind storm or other weather event falls into this category, and therefore, if a tree fell on your house and was caused solely by the wind storm, your insurance policy would likely cover it regardless of who owns the tree.
Negligence and Liability
Not all trees that fall during a windstorm, however, fall because of the wind. Property owners are expected to maintain a certain level of safety on their property, and inspecting and maintaining their trees is part of this responsibility. If the damage is caused by a diseased or damaged tree, insurance companies will likely determine that negligence on the part of the property owner caused the tree to fall, not an “act of God”. Insurance companies are in the business of making money, not paying out claims, and they will do all they can to prove negligence in the event of a fallen tree. You need an experienced personal injury attorney in Sacramento to navigate the process for you and ensure you are not taken for a ride.
Have You Been Injured by a Falling Tree in Sacramento?
Was your car or home damaged by a falling tree in Sacramento? The Weinberger Law Firm has the top personal injury attorney in Sacramento and the right wrongful death attorney in Sacramento to help you with your injury needs. Call a Sacramento personal injury lawyer today for a free consultation with a Sacramento wrongful death lawyer that can help get you the compensation you deserve.