Legalese by Kate Fletcher

Hot weather means storms and downed trees. The question is, who is liable and when? Virginia has specific law regarding liability from damage caused by a fallen tree.

EXAMPLE: Your neighbor’s tree threatens to land on your house if it comes down – can you force your neighbor to remove it? NO The storm hits and the neighbor’s tree actually comes down on your house – is the neighbor now liable? NO – This’s a case for your homeowner’s insurance.

The neighbor attempts to remove the tree but does an incomplete job and the tree comes down on your house – is the neighbor liable now? Maybe – the law says if the neighbor did something to worsen the situation, they may be held liable.

Generally, fallen trees are “nature” and there is no liability from your neighbor for what nature does. Review your homeowner’s policy to make sure you have the appropriate coverage.