Love Your Trees? Take Care of Them—or Else

Arbor Day may be one of the most pleasant holidays ever devised. Who doesn’t enjoy spending time outdoors on a sunny day, and who doesn’t love seeing a beautiful, well-shaped tree? Arbor Day, which happened on April 29 in 2016, remembers the holiday’s founder, J. Sterling Morton, who pioneered the annual planting of trees in Nebraska. The board of agriculture in that state accepted Morton’s resolution in 1872 to set aside one day a year for the planting of trees. National Arbor Day is now celebrated on the last Friday in April every year.

But trees don’t stay lovely without our help. In fact, trees can damage property and hurt people if they are allowed to die off or aren’t pruned on a regular basis. And, if the tree is on someone else’s property and you or a loved one is injured or killed, the owner can be held liable.

Injured and Killed Children

In Elkhart during August of 2015, five people went to the hospital after a tree branch fell on them during a soccer game held at Studebaker Park. Two children sustained head injuries, including an infant with skull fractures and other head trauma. And in southern California during the previous month, eight children were hurt, two of them suffering serious injuries, when a tree toppled near a children’s museum.

Perhaps one of the worst tragedies occurred at an Illinois campground. In that instance, two children were killed after a tree fell on their tents during a 2008 thunderstorm while the family was on a weeklong vacation. It was alleged that the nearby trees suffered from trunk rot and that the campground did not follow their own rules involving evacuations of campers during severe storms. The case was later settled.

Avoiding Disaster on Your Own Property

Certain hallmarks can indicate whether you have problem trees on your land or lot. Be sure to inspect them regularly, especially after severe storms, and watch out for the following situations:

  • A large number of dead branches on a tree
  • Cracks in limbs or a tree’s trunk
  • Decay and dead wood of any kind
  • Cankers (dead patches of bark on branches or main tree trunks)
  • Malformed roots
  • Twisted, unusual tree shapes
  • Weak branch unions (a V-shaped union of branches, as opposed to a U-shape).

If you have dead, decaying, or otherwise defective trees on your property, it is in your best interests to trim it or even cut down the entire tree. Hire a professional if you are unable to do it yourself. A branch as small as four inches in diameter can severely injure a person.

In Indiana, a landowner has an obligation to keep trees in shape. If a reasonable person would have noticed a tree’s problem that caused injury, and would have taken steps to prevent harm to others (by trimming or cutting down the tree), then it’s probable that the landowner would be held liable in a personal injury legal action.

Successfully litigating personal injury cases in Indiana since 1981.

If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury in Indiana and you would like to explore your options, contact Mike Stephenson. Mike will work hard to obtain the justice and compensation you are owed. If you think you might have a case, keep in mind that in Indiana there is a statute of limitations – or a deadline – for filing personal injury claims, so it is unwise to delay. Don’t lose the opportunity to obtain the money you need to put your life back on track and to make your family’s future financially secure. Call Mike Stephenson at 1-317-825-5200, or use our online contact form. The initial consultation is always free. At McNeely Stephenson, we believe justice matters.