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Chico Tree Accident Lawyer

 treeWhy You May Need a Chico Tree Accident Lawyer

It is an unpredictable occurrence that happens with alarming frequency:  Chico trees can crash down without warning.  Often these tree falls result in property damage to cars, houses, or other structures, but sometimes the trees can strike a human, resulting in injuries and even death.  Because the situation is so unique, when that happens, the injured person should immediately seek experienced legal help.  Our Northern California-based firm has successfully handled many personal injury matters that resulted from tree-related accidents.   The complexities that such cases present are not new to the attorneys at our firm.  They can help you or your injured loved one navigate the insurance maze and, if necessary, expertly bring your case to trial.  We believe that landowners who neglect their trees and create a dangerous condition should be held responsible if their carelessness results in injuries to an innocent bystander.

Even if your tree-related injury occurred on public property, our firm can assist you with your case.  Something to be aware of is the fact that the time limit in which you must act to preserve your claim against a public entity is much shorter than it is if the injury occurred on private property.  It becomes even more imperative to promptly seek legal help if the tree that caused the injury was located on public or government land.

The Potential Danger of Chico Trees

Because Chico enjoys a Mediterranean climate, trees are prone to breakage during the long, hot, dry summers.  Often tree limbs will come crashing down, but sometimes an entire tree will fall without warning.  These events have caused property damage, injuries, and deaths.  

For more than 38 years, our office has worked on behalf of injured Chico residents. We have helped a number of clients who sustained severe injuries after being struck by a falling tree.  Because the ins and outs of such a case are often challenging and complex, it only makes sense to seek out a lawyer with experience in tree accident cases if you are injured by a falling tree or tree limb.

Injuries Caused by Falling Chico Trees

Given the weight of the dropping object, injuries caused by a falling tree or tree part are often severe and disabling.  Some of the injuries that a tree accident can cause are:

  • Broken Bones: most often vertebrae, clavicle, or ribs
  • Back and Neck Trauma
  • Fractured Skull
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
  • Concussion and Post Concussive Syndrome
  • Whiplash
  • Partial or Full Paralysis
  • Internal Trauma or Bleeding
  • Death
Injuries Caused by Chico Trees - Monetary Recovery

Our firm offers a free case evaluation.  If you suffered injuries caused by a falling tree or any part of a tree, we may be able to help you get compensation for your injuries.  Below are some of the categories for which an injured person may be entitled to monetary recovery:

  • Medical bills already incurred
  • Future medical expenses (based on physician recommendation)
  • Lost wages to date
  • Future lost wages and loss of earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of or negatively impacted marital relationship (this would be damages paid to your spouse, if applicable)
Chico Trees: Who Owns Them? 

If a tree is located on private property, the location of the tree trunk decides the owner.  According to California's Civil Code, if the trunk of a tree is fully contained within one plot of land, the owner of that plot is the sole owner of the tree.  If the tree trunk splits adjacent plots of land, the owners of each plot own the tree jointly.  

Tree Owner Duties

A private tree owner has the responsibility of inspecting and maintaining his trees.  If the owner was aware or should have been aware (discussed further below) that a tree's condition presented a safety hazard, and the owner did not remove or fix the hazard, he is responsible if the tree's dangerous condition results in injury to another.  This is why it is important for homeowners to invest in regular maintenance.  Our firm recommends inspection and maintenance performed by a certified arborist.  While it may seem an unnecessary expense, keeping your trees in good condition can potentially protect your assets.

Was the Owner Aware of the Danger?

One way an owner can be found negligent for the dangerous conditions of her trees is through actual knowledge.  The simplest way actual knowledge can be established is if the owner testifies that he or she was aware of the condition of the tree - a precariously dangling branch, for example.  But even if the owner does not admit to knowing of the hazard, if the dangling branch was in full view of the owner on a daily basis, that would likely be sufficient evidence to prove actual knowledge.  

Constructive knowledge can establish owner negligence if he or she should have known of the dangerous condition.  This is a "reasonable person" standard - meaning that a reasonable person would have been aware of the hazard. Constructive knowledge can be harder to prove than actual knowledge, which is another reason it is important to retain the services of an experienced tree accident lawyer.

Damages Resulting from Chico Tree Accidents - Who Pays?

A homeowner or owner of other private property has a duty to maintain the property.  The owner could be found negligent for a tree accident injury on the property if she knew or should have known that a dangerous condition existed and did nothing to remedy the danger.  

Another reason it is important to retain a lawyer with experience in tree accidents is that insurance companies will often try to dodge payment of injury claims based on an exception within most insurance policies for an incident caused by a "force of nature" - sometimes also referred to as an act of God.  This exception may apply in rare circumstances such as a lightning strike or earthquake, but most of the time, an experienced lawyer can establish owner negligence even if the tree accident was partially caused by adverse weather conditions.  

Injury Claim Time Limits

California has a two-year statute of limitations.  A claim must be settled or a lawsuit filed before the second anniversary of the incident that caused the injury.  If the injured person was a child, the two-year time limit begins to run once the minor turns 18.  

However, if the incident occurred on public land, the time to file or settle is much shorter, usually only a few months.  If you do not act quickly to retain counsel and protect your right to file an injury claim against a public entity, that right can be lost, leaving you with no means of monetary compensation.  

Chico Trees

Chico takes great pride in its rich urban forest.  The city has been identified by the National Arbor Day Foundation as a designated Tree City USA since 1984.

There are over 31,000 street trees within Chico's public right-of-way. 4,000 other locations have been identified as future tree planting sites.  The city encourages planting trees that are native to California in locations that are appropriate to their growth and health, and specifically recommends the following trees: 

  • Crape Myrtle 
  • Dogwood Cornus
  • Starlight Dogwood
  • Maple, Rocky Mountain Glow
  • Redbud, Forest Pansy
  • Maple, 'Pacific Sunset' - Also Norwegian Sunset maple and Crimson Sunset maple
  • Maple, October Glory
  • Maple, Trident
  • Strawberry Tree
  • Ash, Autumn Purple
  • Ash, Oregon
  • Bay Laurel, California
  • Beech, Rivers Purple
  • Ginkgo Ginkgobiloba  - Also Ginkgobiloba' Autumn Gold' or other varieties
  • Hornbeam, European
  • Kentucky Coffee Tree
  • Maple, Autumn Blaze Acer
  • Oak, Blue
  • Oak, Interior Live Quercus
  • Oak, Skyrocket Quercus
  • Oak, Valley Quercus
  • Oak, Willow Quercus
  • Tupelo Nyssasylvatica
  • Zelkova, Sawleaf
Chico Tree Maintenance 

The Bidwell Park and Playground Commission, under the Chico City Charter, governs the city's Urban Forestry Program.  The Commission oversees the maintenance of city shrubs and trees.  Maintenance crews work for the General Services Department's Street Tree Division.

City trees are those that are planted within the right-of-way, which includes but is not limited to city streets, curbs/gutters, and adjacent sidewalks.  In housing subdivisions that were built subsequent to 1960, the city right-of-way usually extends five and a half feet beyond the gutter, curb, and pavement.  Trees beyond that are typically the property of a private homeowner.  

The news clip below reports on a large Sycamore that crashed down onto a footbridge on the Chico State campus.

Chico Tree Accident Lawyer

I'm Ed Smith, a tree accident lawyer in Chico, California. Every year in Northern California, tree accidents result in severe injuries.  If you or someone you love sustained significant injuries caused by a falling tree, please reach out for free and friendly advice: (503) 392-9400 or (800) 404-5400. My firm has worked diligently on behalf of injured Chico residents for more than 38 years.

I am a member of both the National Association of Distinguished Counsel and the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

We are pleased that so many of our former clients have taken the time to review our services at the following sites: Yelp, Google, and AVVO. Please see our verdicts and settlements page to read about some of our many case successes.

Image by My pictures are CC0. When doing composings: from Pixabay 

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Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 5.12.20]

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