A Tree’s Fallen on Your Car. What Do You Do?

It’s officially hurricane season, and where there are storms, there are likely to be accidents. Whether it’s a hurricane, an ordinary summer storm, or just a rotting tree in the wrong location, having a tree collapse onto your car is a pressing concern for many drivers. When a large tree limb falls or an entire tree tips over on your car, it can create serious damage.

In some instances, this damage may be covered by your Hobbs New Mexico Car Insurance policy. In others, it may be covered by the insurance policy of the property owner. How do you determine who is responsible for the damages? 

Negligence & Premises Liability

You can likely recover for damage to your vehicle caused by a fallen tree or dropped limb by filing a claim against the property owner for negligence. Negligence generally requires that an individual who owes a duty of reasonable care to another person violates that duty, causing injury or loss.

One responsibility of reasonable care is the duty that owners/possessors maintain their property in a reasonably safe manner. A property owner or tenant who fails to take proper steps to prevent others from being harmed by dangerous conditions on their property may be held liable for negligence under the legal theory of premises liability

To prove premises liability in a limb or tree incident, you typically must prove that the property owner failed to exercise reasonable care in maintaining his trees. How do you prove this? It can be difficult, but a car insurance provider can help. After all, what is reasonable care when it comes to trees? Inspecting them visually once a year? Hiring a trained arborist to come to inspect them? Ultimately, you may have to prove that the owner of the property knew or should have known that the tree was liable to fall or shed limbs in a hazardous manner and that the damage was not just an act of nature.

A Fallen City Tree

If the tree is on city, state or other government property, you must check the special requirements for filing suit against such entities, which typically involves first filing a claim with the government within a specific amount of time following the incident. Premises liability claims against the government may be bound by state immunity statutes that establish a lower standard of reasonable care for the government than private property owners. If you have encountered car damage caused by a tree or tree limb, contact a Hobbs New Mexico car insurance agent for advice or assistance in your legal actions.

Your Own Tree

And if the tree is one of your own, on your property? Unfortunately, you can’t exactly file a claim against yourself, but you can contact your auto insurance provider to discuss the damages and your course of action. In this case, it depends on the tree in question. Was the tree in poor health? Were you aware that the tree was in poor health? Had you taken any steps to secure the tree? If the fall was the result of a disaster, such as a hurricane or other storm, you should have no trouble settling the matter with your car insurance. However, if you have neglected to properly care for your trees, you will find it difficult to have your insurance cover the damages.

About Daniels Insurance, Inc.

At Daniels Insurance, Inc., we have a unique understanding of the risks that people like you face on a regular basis. With the backing of our comprehensive coverages and our dedication to customer service and quick claims resolution, your business will be fully protected. For more information, contact us today at (855) 565-7616.