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Falling Trees

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Falling Trees

Brien Roche

Falling trees may be a hazard anywhere.  They become a particular hazard if they fall onto a roadway or onto a home.  

Falling Trees-Va. Supreme Court

The Virginia Supreme Court has addressed the issue of whether a landowner is liable for a tree falling on a public road.  In the case of Cline v. Dunlora South, LLC, 284 Va. 102 (2012), the Virginia Supreme Court essentially said that there is no common law duty on landowners to protect individuals traveling on adjoining public highways from natural conditions on the landowner’s property.  The only duty that exists is a duty to abstain from doing any act by which some part of the highway will become more dangerous to the traveler than in the state of nature.  That is, the landowner cannot do something to a tree that might make  it less stable, thereby causing it to fall on a public street.

Common Law

That case is premised on what is called the “common law”.  The common law essentially is the case law of Virginia.  That case law is then further premised upon the case law from England that we inherited.

Virginia adheres to the idea that the common law prevails unless it is somehow rejected by the case law or otherwise overruled or abrogated by statute.

Falling Trees-Local Ordinance

Many localities have enacted ordinances requiring that property owners do certain things to maintain trees on their property.  In particular they require that property owners not allow trees to get to a condition where they are in danger of falling and thereby endangering human life and/or property.  Those statutes or ordinances in that way abrogate the common law.  Many jurisdictions have those types of ordinances.  There is no statewide ordinance in that regard.

However to the extent that there is such a local ordinance, then a duty to inspect trees may exist.  If that ordinance mandates that trees be maintained, then it is premised upon a duty to inspect.  That duty to inspect and maintain then is what may become the basis for a negligence claim if in fact there is resulting injury.  

Falling Trees-State Code

In addition Virginia Code section 33.2-801 makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor to obstruct any highway.  That’s a clear statement that there is a duty not to obstruct.  Allowing a tree to fall on a public highway obviously is a breach of that duty.  

Call, or contact us for a free consult. Also for more info on falling trees see the Wikipedia pages. Also see the page on this site dealing with premises liability issues.

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Contact Us For A Free Consultation

Falling Trees

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Falling Trees

Brien Roche

Falling trees may be a hazard anywhere.  They become a particular hazard if they fall onto a roadway or onto a home.  

Falling Trees-Va. Supreme Court

The Virginia Supreme Court has addressed the issue of whether a landowner is liable for a tree falling on a public road.  In the case of Cline v. Dunlora South, LLC, 284 Va. 102 (2012), the Virginia Supreme Court essentially said that there is no common law duty on landowners to protect individuals traveling on adjoining public highways from natural conditions on the landowner’s property.  The only duty that exists is a duty to abstain from doing any act by which some part of the highway will become more dangerous to the traveler than in the state of nature.  That is, the landowner cannot do something to a tree that might make  it less stable, thereby causing it to fall on a public street.

Common Law

That case is premised on what is called the “common law”.  The common law essentially is the case law of Virginia.  That case law is then further premised upon the case law from England that we inherited.

Virginia adheres to the idea that the common law prevails unless it is somehow rejected by the case law or otherwise overruled or abrogated by statute.

Falling Trees-Local Ordinance

Many localities have enacted ordinances requiring that property owners do certain things to maintain trees on their property.  In particular they require that property owners not allow trees to get to a condition where they are in danger of falling and thereby endangering human life and/or property.  Those statutes or ordinances in that way abrogate the common law.  Many jurisdictions have those types of ordinances.  There is no statewide ordinance in that regard.

However to the extent that there is such a local ordinance, then a duty to inspect trees may exist.  If that ordinance mandates that trees be maintained, then it is premised upon a duty to inspect.  That duty to inspect and maintain then is what may become the basis for a negligence claim if in fact there is resulting injury.  

Falling Trees-State Code

In addition Virginia Code section 33.2-801 makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor to obstruct any highway.  That’s a clear statement that there is a duty not to obstruct.  Allowing a tree to fall on a public highway obviously is a breach of that duty.  

Call, or contact us for a free consult. Also for more info on falling trees see the Wikipedia pages. Also see the page on this site dealing with premises liability issues.

Contact Us For A Free Consultation

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