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Woodland Tree Accident Lawyer

treeWe have assisted many people who suffered injuries as a result of falling trees and tree limbs. Our firm has the experience and expertise to navigate the various intricacies involved in tree fall cases. We seek to hold negligent property owners accountable for injuries caused by neglected trees. If your injuries were caused by a tree located on either public or private land, we can help.  

What Happens if a Woodland Tree Causes Injuries?  

Anyone who owns property containing a tree or multiple trees should invest in regular inspections and maintenance performed by a tree professional such as a certified arborist. The money spent on proper maintenance can protect a property owner from having to pay damages to an injured party. A property owner will be found responsible for any property damage or injuries caused by one of their trees if the owner knew or should have known of the danger presented by the state of the tree.

Falling Woodland Trees Can Cause Serious Injuries

Because we have handled numerous tree injury cases, our law firm is well aware of the serious, often catastrophic injuries that can be caused by falling trees and branches. Those injuries include, but are not limited to:

  • Fractures / Broken Bones
  • Neck and Back Trauma
  • Internal Injuries
  • Partial or Full Paralysis
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
  • Death

When a human is struck by a falling tree or falling tree limb, it is often, unfortunately, on the head or upper body. Trauma to the head causes some of the most devastating and long-lasting injuries. Obviously, the velocity of a falling tree or branch coupled with its weight results in a high risk of disabling injuries or death.

How Much are Injuries Caused by Falling Trees Worth?

Significant monetary compensation may be available to you if you were injured by a falling tree. Some of the damages that may be recoverable include:

  • Past Medical Expenses
  • Future Medical Expenses
  • Lost Wages
  • Future Lost Wages / Loss of Earning Capacity
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Reduced or Lost Enjoyment of Life
  • Emotional Distress

Additionally, if you are married, your spouse may be able to recover monies to make up for his or her loss of certain aspects of the marital relationship that resulted from your injuries.

Who Owns the Woodland Trees?

The City of Woodland owns trees located in public areas. These include the trees in the maintenance strips between the gutters and sidewalks that run parallel to the street. The city also owns trees within the city's easement along center medians, sound walls, in parks, and on other public lands. 

To determine who owns trees that are not on public lands, the California Civil Code provides guidance - and it all depends on the tree trunk. Section 833 states if the trunk is fully on the property of one landowner, he or she owns that tree. Section 834 relates to trees that have a trunk standing on adjacent plots. In those cases, the adjacent landowners are joint owners of the tree.

Who is Responsible for the Maintenance of Woodland Trees?  

For city trees, the Urban Forestry Group provides the maintenance. The group's duties are planting, protecting, and maintaining trees that are located within the city's easements, public spaces, and parks. The maintenance of city trees is sectioned out, and the trees situated in each section are maintained and pruned on a seven-year cycle. 

If a city tree is encroaching on a resident's private land, the homeowner can have the tree removed or pruned at their own expense. Permits for such a request are issued by the city. A homeowner can also formally request that a city tree be planted in the maintenance strip in front of the homeowner's house.  

Homeowners and private property owners have a legal responsibility to maintain their own trees.  

Negligence of Private Tree Owners

A party injured by a tree on private property must prove that the tree owner was negligent. There are a couple of theories under which negligence may be found. An owner with actual knowledge of the dangerous condition, which then did nothing to remedy the condition, would be negligent. For example, it would be hard for a property owner to say they were not aware of a decaying, hanging branch that was visible from their living room window.  

Even if the dangerous condition were not so visibly apparent, the owner still may be negligent under the legal theory of Constructive Knowledge. Under this category of negligence, the injured party must prove that a "reasonably prudent person" would have known of the dangerous condition.

It is the duty of the property owner to prevent any harm caused by the dangerous condition if they knew of or should have known about it. If the property owner fails in that responsibility, and the hazardous condition is not remedied, and that dangerous condition results in injury or property damage, the property owner is responsible for damages.

An Experienced Woodland Tree Attorney Can Help Prove Owner Negligence

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries due to a fallen tree or tree branch, it is essential that you quickly seek experienced legal counsel. There are many complexities associated with proving that an owner knew or should have known about a tree's dangerous condition.

Additionally, there are exceptions to negligence that insurance companies will attempt to use to avoid paying damages. Many times, the insurance adjuster will claim that the injury was caused by a "force of nature" or an "act of God" in an attempt to sidestep owner negligence.  An experienced Woodland tree injury attorney can often get the liability to stick, even if adverse weather conditions played a role in the injury.

Legal Time Limits

In California, a personal injury claim must be settled, or a lawsuit must be filed before the two-year anniversary of the incident that caused the injuries. 

  • Claims Against the Government or Public Entity: If you were injured due to a falling tree that stood on public land, there is far less time to act.  A claim against a public entity must be filed within six months of the incident.  
  • Injury to a minor child: If your child was struck by a falling tree or tree branch and sustained injuries, the claim must be settled or a lawsuit filed before the two (2) year anniversary of his or her 18th birthday.
Property Owners: Beware of The Common Conditions that Cause Trees to Fall

There is no substitute for regular inspection and maintenance of your trees by a trained professional. That said, it helps to be aware of some of the most common reasons a tree may drop limbs or fall in its entirety:

  • Adverse weather such as heavy rains or high winds
  • Extended drought conditions
  • Failure to perform proper and regular tree maintenance
  • Trunk or root rot
  • Tree diseases or fungus
Woodland: Trees Gave it the Name

Woodland, California, is the city seat of Yolo County. Henry Wyckoff founded the city in 1853 under the name Yolo City. When the first post office opened in 1859, the city was renamed Woodland based on its location within a grove of oaks.  Woodland trees have proliferated, and today the city continues to live up to its name.

Woodland's urban forest consists of more than 15,000 trees, many that date back to the late 1800s. The City of Woodland has a goal of improving the area by planting even more trees.  In doing so, the city has partnered with the Woodland Tree Foundation. The Foundation's motto is "Building Community Through Canopy." 

The majestic beauty of the Woodland trees is undeniable. However, with so many old, large trees, and given the natural drought and wind conditions often facing the Northern California region, the abundance of greenery can become a safety hazard. Every year in California, falling trees are responsible for extensive property damage, thousands of injuries, and even deaths.  

When property damage, injuries, and death occur due to falling trees and tree limbs, a lawyer experienced in tree injury cases will be able to ask the questions and get the answers that can help the injured person recover monetary damages. The legal professionals within our firm have successfully litigated many catastrophic tree injury cases, and have more than 38 years of experience handling complex personal injury matters.  

This short video shows the aftermath of a huge tree crashing into private property.

Woodland Tree Accident Lawyer

I'm Ed Smith, a tree accident lawyer in Woodland, California. Falling trees and falling tree branches can cause significant, even fatal injuries. If you were struck by a tree and suffered injuries, please call us at (503) 392-9400 or (800) 404-5400 for free and friendly advice. For more than 38 years, I have been helping Woodland residents obtain fair compensation for their injuries. My firm will diligently advocate on your behalf.  

I belong to the National Association of Distinguished Counsel and the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

Take a moment to review what our clients have to say about us on Yelp, Google, and AVVO. Our verdicts and settlements page illustrates our successful results.

Photo by Arnaud Mesureur on Unsplash

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

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