Berkeley Tree Accident Lawyer


People in Berkeley have a special relationship with the trees in their city and many have their favorites. You'll need a Berkeley tree accident lawyer when one of those beautiful trees falls and causes an injury. If an unsuspecting person is caught in the path of a falling tree or heavy limb, it can cause serious trauma. The owners of properties and government entities are liable for maintaining trees and removing those that pose a threat to public safety, thus exposing them to financial liability in the event of a fatality or injury.

How Can I Get Compensation If I'm Injured by a Tree?

California law specifies who is liable for injuries caused by falling limbs or trees. It is the homeowner's responsibility for any injuries that may be caused by a tree standing on their property under California Civil Code 833-834. It is possible for two homeowners to share responsibility for injuries or deaths that occur if a limb or tree falls, injuring someone, and is located on the property line between houses or other buildings. 

When a Tree Accident Occurs in Another Location, Who's Responsible?

Location determines liability in cases of falling trees and heavy limbs that injure people. In Berkeley, the 38,000 public trees come under the jurisdiction of the city’s Urban Forestry Unit of the Parks Division. Area trees are inspected to see if pruning or removal is warranted. City trees are those that grow between the street and sidewalk, along medians, in parks and on other properties owned by the town. Property owners can call 311 to request that the trees on the public property area around their homes be pruned. 

Homeowner Tree Trimming Basics

As most Berkeley residents know, pruning a coast live oak can be tricky because of its moratorium status, and it’s illegal to remove them. No more than ¼ of the root system, stem or functioning leaf area can be removed in under a two-year period that involves a single stem tree of 5.7 inches in diameter or those with multiple stems and a combined diameter of 8.3 inches. Contact the city arborist or city manager to get approval beforehand. Permits are required for work that is performed on city property for any trees if the homeowner wants to do it. A permit is not required for homeowners trimming or removing their trees on their own property, except for the coast live oak.

Business and Apartment Liability

The owners of buildings such as shopping centers, apartments and businesses are responsible for maintaining their trees and removing them if they become a hazard. The owner of the property would be liable if a tree fell on someone and they were injured or killed.

What Are Common Injuries Caused by a Tree or Limb Falling?

Trees are incredibly heavy, weighing thousands of pounds. The consequence of this is that even a limb that falls has the potential to cause serious injuries. The following are some dangers and consequences of falling limbs or trees:

  • Depending on its size and weight, a heavy limb usually causes serious injuries to a person. Injuries, however, are often life-threatening, resulting in traumatic brain injuries, fractured bones, and spinal cord damage.
  • Motor vehicle occupants can sustain severe or fatal injuries from falling trees.
  • The roots of trees can cause upheavals on sidewalks and in other areas, creating trip hazards that can result in injuries such as broken bones and facial trauma.
  • Branches and trees can drag down power lines, causing an electric shock or electrocution.
  • It is especially difficult for drivers to see at intersections with overgrown trees and foliage, which can lead to an accident. Traffic collisions and accidents involving pedestrians, motorcycle riders and bicyclists can be caused by blocked intersection views.
  • Tree trimmers can suffer fatal or serious injuries when they fall. An employer may be held responsible if they fail to take adequate safety precautions.
Tree Accidents Can Result in a Variety of Serious Injuries

A falling tree or branch can result in devastating injuries and fatalities. Injury severity is linked to factors such as the force, weight and height of a tree or limb. These accidents are most commonly associated with trauma such as:

  • Crush injuries, which can result in amputation of the limb
  • Broken bones, including multiple fractures
  • Traumatic brain injuries such as hemorrhage
  • Abdominal trauma causing organ damage or internal bleeding
  • Chest trauma such as multiple broken ribs or a collapsed lung
  • Spinal cord damage resulting in paralysis
  • Fatalities
By Filing a Personal Injury Claim, What Kind of Compensation Is Recoverable?

Following are some losses that may be claimed by someone who suffered injuries caused by a falling tree or limb:

  • Medical costs caused by the accident can be recovered, including hospitalization, ambulance cost, testing, medications, surgeries and rehabilitation. If the injury continues after the claim is presented, future expenses are factored into the settlement.
  • It is possible to recover lost wages, bonuses and tips, as well as insurance and pension coverage. If the injured party cannot go back to work or becomes permanently disabled, those costs are factored in.
  • A spouse's loss of consortium, moral support, society, and protection may be recouped.
  • In addition to physical and mental suffering, emotional trauma can also occur, including post-traumatic stress disorder and can be compensated. 
Berkeley Is Home to a Huge Variety of Trees

The climate in the Berkeley area is Mediterranean with wet, cool winters and warm, dry summers. Forty-two native trees are found here, including the prized coast live oak. However, in Southern California, many of these trees are old, which increases the risk of them falling or dropping a heavy branch during a storm. Common native trees include the following:

  • Fremont cottonwood
  • Western sycamore
  • Blue elderberry
  • Big leaf maple
  • Box elder
  • White alder
Injured by a Tree? Getting Compensation

You have options after an injury or because you lost a loved one to a Berkeley tree accident. You can seek compensation with the help of a Berkeley tree accident attorney. Private citizens and companies have a different statute of limitations they must follow compared to public institutions. Injury due to non-governmental sources has a deadline of two years or one year from the date the injury was discovered. 

Filing a Government Claim for a Tree Injury

When you are injured by a governmental source, the claim must be filed within six months. The government entity must respond to your claim within 45 days. A lawsuit must be filed by the injured party within six months if the claim is denied. Contact our tree accident lawyer in Berkeley if you have questions about these important timelines.

A tree accident attorney in Berkeley can assist you in filing a claim before the statute of limitations expires and ensure that the correct at-fault parties are held responsible. Moreover, evidence can disappear or be obliterated, so contacting a lawyer right away is crucial. 

Attorney Ed Smith walks you through what you should look for when seeking legal advice in the following video:

Berkeley Tree Accident Lawyers

I am Ed Smith, a Berkeley tree accident lawyer. When a tree or limb falls and you are injured or lose a loved one, you have the right to compensation if negligence was to blame. Get free and friendly advice from our injury attorneys by contacting us at (510) 631-0200 or (800) 404-5400. Online inquiries are welcome, as well. Please let us know about your case so we can examine it, answer your questions and let you know what recovery options you have.

Among the organizations we are proud to belong to are:

Here are some examples of how our injury lawyer team has helped others:

Photo attribution: Image by Sharon Ang from Pixabay 

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