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Old 06-07-2007, 11:01 AM   #1
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Legal/Insurance Question

Any lawyers or insurance guys' opinions would be much appreciated here:

So my buddy just had his neighbors' tree drop on his car. The car is TOTALLED and the tree was rotten to the core. He called their homeowner's insurance and they said there's no way they'd pay that claim. Does he have a case at all? And if so, is it worth it?
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Old 06-07-2007, 11:07 AM   #2
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Re: Legal/Insurance Question

Personally I'd start by reading the policy to see exactly what's covered vs. what's not.
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Old 06-07-2007, 11:36 AM   #3
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Re: Legal/Insurance Question

Well, apparently his neighbor's insurance policy is claiming it was an act of God even though no other trees fell down and this one has been stated as being totally rotten by the city.
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Old 06-07-2007, 11:40 AM   #4
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Re: Legal/Insurance Question

Unfortunately, it sounds like your buddy is going to have to file with his car insurance...as opposed to the neighbor's homeowner's insurance...
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Old 06-07-2007, 11:46 AM   #5
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Re: Legal/Insurance Question

I agree with BD
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Old 06-07-2007, 11:50 AM   #6
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Re: Legal/Insurance Question

He only had liability on it. So, even though it was on their property and due to negligence on their part to remove the rotten tree, he's still screwed?
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Old 06-07-2007, 11:51 AM   #7
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Re: Legal/Insurance Question

I'm no lawyer, but if the tree is on record as being rotten and the guy was informed of this by the city, then I think he has a strong case.

I don't think that's an act of God at all. I mean was it windy at all, or did the tree just up and fall over? If there was a storm then it may get tricky, but if it was just a normal day, then I'd talk to a lawyer.

Of course you have to weigh the pros and cons here. Is the expense of a lawyer going to be more costly than the deductible he'd pay if he files with his own car insurance company (plus any rate increases).
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Old 06-07-2007, 11:52 AM   #8
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Re: Legal/Insurance Question

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Originally Posted by TheMalcolmConnection View Post
He only had liability on it. So, even though it was on their property and due to negligence on their part to remove the rotten tree, he's still screwed?
If he only had liability, then it's definitely worth talking to a lawyer about. The cost of the lawyer definitely won't outweigh the cost of replacing the car.
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Old 06-07-2007, 11:54 AM   #9
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Re: Legal/Insurance Question

I just did this one awhile back for someone else - but mind you it was Maryland and VA or DC may be different. Here is the quote from the relevant Maryland case (it, in turn is citing a Massachusets case):

Where the defendants knew that the tree on their property was decayed and liable to fall and to damage the property of [his neighbors], we think and hold that the defendants were under a duty to eliminate the danger and could not with impunity place such burden to remove the tree on [the plaintiffs].
From Melnick v. C.S.X. Corp., 68 Md.App. 107, 510 A.2d 592 (1986)(quoting Kurtigian v. City of Worcester, 348 Mass. 284, 203 N.E.2d 692 (1965)).

If your friend can show that the neighbor had knowledge that the tree was rotted, he may have a shot. If the company STILL denies it, call the VA Insurance Commission - they may be able to help.
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Old 06-07-2007, 11:55 AM   #10
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Re: Legal/Insurance Question

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I'm no lawyer, but if the tree is on record as being rotten and the guy was informed of this by the city, then I think he has a strong case.

I don't think that's an act of God at all. I mean was it windy at all, or did the tree just up and fall over? If there was a storm then it may get tricky, but if it was just a normal day, then I'd talk to a lawyer.

Of course you have to weigh the pros and cons here. Is the expense of a lawyer going to be more costly than the deductible he'd pay if he files with his own car insurance company (plus any rate increases).
He can't file since it's liability and I don't think that would cover a tree falling on his car.
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Old 06-07-2007, 11:56 AM   #11
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Re: Legal/Insurance Question

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Originally Posted by JoeRedskin View Post
I just did this one awhile back for someone else - but mind you it was Maryland and VA or DC may be different. Here is the quote from the relevant Maryland case (it, in turn is citing a Massachusets case):

Where the defendants knew that the tree on their property was decayed and liable to fall and to damage the property of [his neighbors], we think and hold that the defendants were under a duty to eliminate the danger and could not with impunity place such burden to remove the tree on [the plaintiffs].
From Melnick v. C.S.X. Corp., 68 Md.App. 107, 510 A.2d 592 (1986)(quoting Kurtigian v. City of Worcester, 348 Mass. 284, 203 N.E.2d 692 (1965)).

If your friend can show that the neighbor had knowledge that the tree was rotted, he may have a shot. If the company STILL denies it, call the VA Insurance Commission - they may be able to help.
Awesome. Thanks guys, this is exactly what he wanted to know.
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Old 06-07-2007, 11:58 AM   #12
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Re: Legal/Insurance Question

As far as I know, when someone else's tree falls on your property, the part that is on your property.....is now yours. I am a bit surprised that there is no recourse with the car owners, homeowners ins. Like MK said, go over the policy, and see.
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Old 06-07-2007, 11:58 AM   #13
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Re: Legal/Insurance Question

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He can't file since it's liability and I don't think that would cover a tree falling on his car.
No it wouldn't cover it. He should definitely talk to a lawyer, I think he's got the guy by the balls. Just needs to get some documentation from the city/township showing that Mr. Dipshit knew the tree was rotted, and get it into the hands of a lawyer. Then he can take it from there.
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Old 06-07-2007, 12:00 PM   #14
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Re: Legal/Insurance Question

Yeah, I mean he doesn't want to sue his neighbor, just their insurance company. Like he says the costs of having THIS guy on your bad side isn't worth it, but he definitely wants to take it to the insurance company.
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Old 06-07-2007, 12:02 PM   #15
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Re: Legal/Insurance Question

If the company still fights it, go to the VA insurance commission before going to a lawyer - if they can do anything, they do it for free. It may just take a call from them to the insurer to get it done.
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