Maybe you came back from vacation to discover your property had been vandalized. Some people will receive “fair” warning about the impending damage; for others, it happens out of the blue. Whatever your circumstances are, you should know that taking a neighbor to court over tree damage in Texas may not be easy. However, there are a few things you can do to prepare for the best outcome in your case.
3 Rules for Successfully Suing a Neighbor for Tree Damage in Texas
Texas has special laws specifically protecting the trees on a property owner’s land. If your neighbor (or someone else) removes, damages, cuts down, or otherwise hurts a tree on your property without your consent, he or she can be compelled to compensate you for the offense.
In general, you will have to prove three things in order to recover for tree damage:
- Ownership. If the damaged tree lies on your property line, you may have difficulty establishing ownership of the tree. In addition, your neighbor has a legal right to trim any branches on your tree if it protrudes into his yard, such as by hanging over a fence, above his pool, or otherwise over the property line.
- Proof of damage. You will have to prove that the tree sustained damage that severely impacts the health of the tree. If your neighbor chopped off a few branches that were on his side of a fence, you will likely have no claim since the tree itself is still in good health (even if it suffered aesthetic damage). However, if your neighbor performed a chemical treatment that seeped into your yard and killed the trees, he can be held liable.
- Danger to others. Property owners can only sue for the replacement value of a damaged tree if the tree was healthy and did not pose an immediate danger to others. If a dead tree or rotten limb poses a threat to your neighbors, the neighbor may have a legal right to remove or prune the tree to prevent injuries.
How Much Could I Be Owed for a Damaged Tree?
Property owners can recoup many costs for tree damage, including:
- Replacement of the tree (including purchase price, delivery, planting, debris removal and cleanup).
- Property value losses incurred if the tree cannot be replaced.
- Additional expenses (such as measures taken in an attempt to save the tree before it died, tree removal, chipping costs, appraisal costs, city fines, or lost time from work due to the issue).
- Mental anguish caused by hostility, threats, or other unreasonable actions on your neighbor’s part.
We can help you determine who is at fault for damage to your tree and fight to get you get the full replacement value for your property. Call Wayne Wright LLP today at 800-237-3334 to discuss the details of your case in your free consultation.