Trees are beautiful, lovely to look at, and as we know, essential for a healthy and clean environment since they provide oxygen through photosynthesis and remove carbon dioxide from the air.
Nevertheless, trees can be a cause of serious injuries and even death. Huge trees or very substantial tree limbs sometimes fall. A falling tree is a hazard that is immediately life threatening, if it does not result in only crippling and permanent injuries.
The State of New York has the obligation to maintain the trees alongside State Arterial Highways up fo 20 feet from the roadway.
The City of New York has a similar obligation to maintain its trees in a reasonably safe condition whether those trees are on sidewalks, alongside highways or roads, or in parks.
The obligation to maintain a tree also applies to the owner of buildings, office buildings, residential buildings, or homes on whose land the tree sits.
Trees do not fall by themselves. While nature is a substantial factor in trees falling especially at times of high winds, a lack of proper maintenance is often the essential and ultimate cause of the falling tree.
Trees consist of three basic parts: roots; the trunk; and the limbs and branches with their leaves.
A tree can become visibly rotten. Failure to remove visibly rotten tree by cutting it down is the failure to remove a hazardous condition where pedestrians or oars with occupants are nearby.
This office represented a 44 year old photographer struck by a tree while driving on the Taconie Parkway. We were able to prove that the employees of the State of New York failed in their obligation to observe the visibly rotten tree trunk and to remove the tree from its place adjacent to the highway. Had they done so the man would not have died leaving a Widow and child behind.
in a similar case, a homeowner at Jamaica Estates, Queens, New York failed to properly maintain a tree that had “root rot”. This was visible because when a tree has root rot the top portions of the tree do not grow as a result of the inability of the roots to transport nutrients to the top of the tree. Our office was able to prove negligence on the part of the homeowner in failing to observe the deteriorated root rot condition of the tree, and in failing to call in a gardener or an arborist to remove the tree entirely. In that case the falling tree crippled a motorist.