Property Damage by Tree Limbs and Roots

property damage by trees, property damage lawyerHave you ever wondered about property damage caused by tree limbs or roots?

First, let’s talk for a moment about your neighbor’s tree limbs.  Suppose the tree itself is on your neighbor’s property, but the limbs are hanging over your fence, casting unwanted shade or shedding leaves you don’t want to pick up.  This really bothers you. Can you trim the limbs even though the tree belongs to your neighbor and is on his property?

The quick answer is yes. But don’t ask your neighbor to pay for it. And don’t trim the limbs beyond the property line. If it’s a more serious matter, you might have a nuisance action for property damage.

Option 1: Self-Help—Trim the Branches Yourself

Under Tennessee law, you may, at your own expense, cut away intruding vegetation to the property line whether or not it constitutes a nuisance or is otherwise causing harm to your property.

Option 2: Nuisance Action—Bring Suit to Make Your Neighbor Pay Damages and Fix the Problem

In some cases, you may have a cause of action for nuisance. A nuisance lawsuit may be brought when tree branches or roots from the adjacent property encroach upon and damage your property. Lane v. W.J. Curry & Sons, 92 S.W.3d 355, 356-57 (Tenn. 2002).

What is a Nuisance?

In Tennessee, a private nuisance is anything which disturbs the free use of your property, or which renders its ordinary use or physical occupation uncomfortable. This extends to problems that endanger life or health, give offense to the senses, violate the laws of decency, or obstruct the reasonable and comfortable use of property.

Encroaching trees and plants are not nuisances just because they cast shade, drop leaves, flowers, or fruit, or just because they intrude upon your property either above or below the ground. However, the problem may be a nuisance if it causes actual harm or poses an imminent danger of actual harm to your property.

Example of a Nuisance Case

The Lane case represents a pretty extreme case of nuisance. In that case, the trees at issue caused a hole in the plaintiff’s roof and water from that hole ruined her ceilings and stove. In addition, the plaintiff had severe plumbing problems as a result of encroaching tree roots. She was not able to use her bathroom sink or tub for two years. Nor could she flush her toilet. Even worse, raw sewage bubbled up into her bathtub and the floor had to be replaced because the toilet continually backed up. The Court stated:

Clearly, the defendant’s encroaching trees have adversely affected the plaintiff’s reasonable and ordinary use and occupation of her home, not to mention posing hazards to the plaintiff’s health and safety. Accordingly, we reject the defendant’s assertion that its trees do not constitute a nuisance.

What’s the end result of a nuisance lawsuit?

The owner of the offending tree may be held responsible for harm caused and may also be required to cut back the encroaching branches or roots if a court finds that the encroaching vegetation is a nuisance.

If you are successful in a private nuisance action, you may be entitled to several types of remedies. A court might order that the nuisance be stopped (injunctive relief). You may also be entitled to money damages for the cost of restoring your property to its pre-nuisance condition, as well as damages for inconvenience, emotional distress, and injury to the use and enjoyment of your property.

Read more about tree limbs and the law in Tennessee by reading our previous blog post titled, “Law FAQ: My Neighbor’s Tree Hangs Over the Property Line. Do I have the right to cut back the branches?” 

Need a Property Damage Lawyer?

Disputes between neighbors can be very uncomfortable. We can help, whether that means facilitating communication, fashioning an amicable resolution, or, if all else fails, filing a lawsuit. We’re here to help you find a solution that works for YOU!  Call us at 901-372-5003 or email us here if you need a property damage lawyer.

Meet the Wiseman Bray PLLC team by clicking here.

 

Dog Bite Lawyer: Loose Dogs Can Mean Strict Liability for Injuries.

dog bite lawyer

Loose dogs can mean strict liability.

More advice from a dog bite lawyer. A few days ago, we posted about dog bites that occur on the property of the dog owner and how, in order for the dog owner to be held liable, the injured person must show that the dog owner had some kind of notice of the dog’s dangerous tendencies.  But what happens if, for example, you are walking down the sidewalk or enjoying a run in the park and a dog attacks you? What if your own dog breaks loose, runs away from home, and later bites a stranger down the street?

The Tennessee dog bite statute ( Tenn. Code Ann. 44-8-413) treats dog bites differently depending on where they occur.  Injuries that occur when a dog is running loose in a public place result in the strict liability of the dog owner.   Dog owners have a duty to keep their dogs under reasonable control at all times and to keep them from “running at large.” “Running at large” essentially means the dog is loose and uncontrolled either on public property or on someone else’s private property. Unlike in cases where a dog bite occurs on the dog owner’s property, liability for a dog “running at large” does not hinge upon whether the dog’s owner knew or should have known of any dangerous tendencies of the dog.  As usual, there are exceptions to this general rule, such as when the injured person harasses or provokes the dog.

Important Points to Consider

  • It is a huge risk to allow your dog to run free without a leash. If your dog bites or injures another person while running free and uncontrolled, you will most likely be held liable, even if your dog has never injured or bitten anyone before. Your insurance company may or may not assign a dog bite lawyer to represent you.

 

  • If you are bitten by a dog who is running loose, you are probably entitled to compensation for your injuries by the dog’s owner. Call a dog bite lawyer.  Don’t be lulled into feeling sorry for the dog’s owner, who may be frantically and actively trying to regain control of the dog. The owner will probably be very apologetic, will be very upset, and will tell you that the dog has never bitten anyone before.  None of this matters, though. Most likely, the dog’s owner will have applicable liability insurance. You should not be saddled with medical expenses you incurred through no fault of your own and the Tennessee legislature has provided you with the means to achieve fair compensation.  Business is business, even if you are a dog lover yourself.

 

I am a Dog Bite Lawyer if you need help.

If you have questions about a dog bite or other injuries caused by a dog or other animal, please call me or one of the other lawyers at Wiseman Bray PLLC at 901-372-5003.  We have experience representing both dog owners and people who have been injured by dogs.

dog bite lawyer at wiseman bray memphis, erin shea

Erin Shea, One of the Dog Bite Lawyers at Wiseman Bray PLLC