When you have a slip and fall accident due to a poorly maintained walkway or floor, you know that you can file a premises liability lawsuit to recover damages for you injury. You can recover compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and, depending on the grievousness of the property owner’s neglect, possibly punitive damages. But what about when a tree or tree branch falls and injures you or kills a loved one?

On Tuesday, a 50-foot tall tree broke off at the trunk about 3 1/2 feet off the ground and fell on a passing pickup truck. A young boy was killed. The father, who was driving and seated directly in front of the boy, suffered serious personal injury and was taken to the hospital. The mother, seated beside the father, suffered minor injuries. And a young girl sitting beside the boy who was killed, was unharmed. Could this be the basis for a successful premises liability lawsuit?

The answer depends on whether there was any violation of a property owner’s duty to maintain the tree and protect passers-by from hazards. Indications that a tree might be dangerous and should be removed or trimmed include:

  • Tree growing too large for root structure and/or soil quality
  • Tree threatening power lines
  • Tree growing asymmetrically, increasing likelihood it will fall
  • Tree old or diseased
  • Numerous or large dead branches
  • Tree moves dangerously in the wind or sags under snow or ice

If a tree showed several of the warning signs but was not trimmed or removed by the property owner, it may be the basis for a premises liability lawsuit. Poorly maintained trees are a hazard to people and property.

In the case of the young boy killed- the tree was a 50-foot-tall oak that seemed to have no disease or rot. Since it broke off at the trunk, the roots are not to blame. There was no wind, and no sign of tampering with the tree. It seems to have been a freak accident, and most likely not a good basis for a premises liability lawsuit.

If you were injured or a loved one suffered injury or wrongful death as a result of a poorly maintained tree, schedule a premises liability lawsuit consultation with the Columbus, Ohio personal injury lawyers at Robert W. Kerpsack Co., L.P.A. today to discuss possible action.