Yuba City Tree Accident Lawyer

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Yuba City is located in the Central Valley of California near where the Yuba River and Feather River join. It has many, many large oak trees that are native to the area, and having been founded during the Gold Rush era more than 160 years ago it also has many large and mature non-native trees and ornamental trees that have been planted along city streets and in the city's parks. Large trees can naturally become overgrown or diseased and lose limbs or collapse completely, and the ongoing drought in the western United States has further weakened many trees in Yuba City in recent years. Falling trees and falling limbs can cause substantial damage when they fall on property, and when they land on a person they can cause serious injury or even death. When this happens, a Yuba City tree accident lawyer like those experienced personal injury attorneys at our firm can help injury victims and their families receive compensation from insurers for negligent property owners and others whose negligence may have caused the incident.

Who Owns and is Responsible for the Tree?

When a falling tree or tree limb has seriously injured someone, the initial legal consideration is to determine who may bear legal responsibility based upon their ownership of the tree. Many of the trees in and around Yuba City and other local towns that are near streets or in parks and other public areas are likely to be owned by the city, county, or state, depending upon which public entity owns the land on which the trees are located.

For trees that are not located on public property, ownership is generally governed by sections 833 and 834 of the Civil Code of California. These laws state that trees on private property are the property and responsibility of whoever owns the land upon which the tree trunk is located. A tree whose branches overhang another property are still the responsibility of the owner of the land where the trunk is growing -- only when the trunk itself is on both sides of a property line is the ownership and responsibility jointly held by more than one landowner.

Ownership of the tree will determine to whom an injury claim will be submitted and who may be the likely defendant in any lawsuit that must be filed. For a tree growing on public property, this will usually involve following the rules for claims against government entities, which have different procedures and timelines than claims and lawsuits against private owners. For a tree growing on private property, a personal injury claim will typically be submitted to the homeowner's insurance company for the property's owner. In both types of claims, if the matter cannot be satisfactorily settled at the claim stage, a lawsuit filed with the local court will typically follow.

Tree Accident Injuries

The types of injuries that someone may sustain due to a falling tree limb are most likely to involve upper body injuries since the debris is usually falling downward on someone and can range from minor injuries to fatal injuries. These can include:

The severity of injury will depend upon many different factors. Obviously, if someone is struck by a major tree limb weighing hundreds of pounds or an entire collapsed tree that may weigh tons, a variety of serious injuries may result. But even a small branch weighing only pounds can cause serious, even life-threatening injuries when falling twenty or thirty feet onto someone's head.

What Goes into Proving Negligence?

Tree owners are generally responsible for maintaining trees in such a way that they don't present a threat of injury to people on or near their properties. Very often trees and tree limbs may fall during a weather event such as heavy winds or a storm, and insurance companies may point at these "natural" events as being the cause of a falling tree or tree limb incident. This is an incomplete story, however, since it is well recognized that the trees that are most likely to collapse or to lose limbs are the ones that were unhealthy, overgrown, and/or improperly maintained before the weather event occurred. Examples would include failing to follow proper tree maintenance as encouraged by arboriculture organizations.  Negligence on the part of the property owner can be shown:

  • If the tree was so weakened or diseased that it should have been removed entirely.
  • If a limb that fell should have been removed due to its condition and/or being in a place where it was likely to fall on someone.
  • If improper pruning and maintenance activity resulted in a tree that was weakened or overgrown to the point that limb loss was likely.

The legal liability for these causes rests typically with the property owner who has primary responsibility for the tree, but it may rest with other individuals and companies, such as a neighboring property owner who damaged the tree by activity on their property or by improperly trimming parts of the tree that overhung their land, or a landscaping company hired by the property owner whose maintenance of the tree damaged it rather than keeping it healthy.

View this video from the Arbor Day Foundation about how to find and hire professionally certified arborists to help you care for your trees:

Yuba City Tree Accident Lawyers

Hello, my name’s Ed Smith, and I’m a Tree Accident Attorney in Yuba City. The trees in our “urban forests” provide us with cooling shade in the summertime, beautiful places to stroll in the spring and fall, and habitat for wild and domestic critters year-round. But they can also present a risk when poor growing conditions, improper maintenance, or just the end of their natural lifetimes result in weakened or diseased trees that may collapse or lose large limbs. When this results in injury, an experienced personal injury attorney can help victims receive appropriate compensation for their injuries from the property owners and others whose negligence may have caused the incident. If someone in your family has been seriously injured in a falling tree or tree limb accident, please contact us today at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for free and friendly advice. You can also reach us with a submission to our online contact form.

We are proud members of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and National Association of Distinguished Counsel.

You can read our client reviews on Google, Yelp, and Avvo and case histories of our past verdicts and settlements.

Image by Szabolcs Molnar from Pixabay

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