property and car damage from neighbor's tree root

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Old May 10th, 2013, 11:53 AM   #1
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Default property and car damage from neighbor's tree root

Hello- I'm in Easter Pennsylvania
I have a question regarding responsibility for damage to my driveway and vehicle from a large oak tree growing on my neighbors property. The roots of the tree have started to encroach on my driveway making it hard to back out without hitting the stump. I did, in fact hit the stump and damaged the side of my car.

This is a beautiful old tree and I would very much not want to have it removed, but I'm not sure if the stump can be cut without endangering it. I asked the neighbor if she'd share the cost of an inspection of the tree by a tree expert to see if this could be done and she flat out refused.

Can someone tell me what steps I would have to take to a) get her to pay for the damage to my car, and b) take some responsibility for the roots growing into my driveway. I'm worried that the cost of taking her to civil court would be more than the cost to repair the car. I'm also wondering, if I were to have the roots cut, and something happened to the tree, would I be responsible for the damage and have to pay to have the tree removed (it's huge- it would be a nightmare!).
Thanks in advance
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Old May 10th, 2013, 01:09 PM   #2
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Default Re: property and car damage from neighbor's tree root

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Originally Posted by fizzy102 View Post
Hello- I'm in Easter Pennsylvania
I have a question regarding responsibility for damage to my driveway and vehicle from a large oak tree growing on my neighbors property. The roots of the tree have started to encroach on my driveway making it hard to back out without hitting the stump. I did, in fact hit the stump and damaged the side of my car.

This is a beautiful old tree and I would very much not want to have it removed, but I'm not sure if the stump can be cut without endangering it. I asked the neighbor if she'd share the cost of an inspection of the tree by a tree expert to see if this could be done and she flat out refused.

Can someone tell me what steps I would have to take to a) get her to pay for the damage to my car, and b) take some responsibility for the roots growing into my driveway. I'm worried that the cost of taking her to civil court would be more than the cost to repair the car. I'm also wondering, if I were to have the roots cut, and something happened to the tree, would I be responsible for the damage and have to pay to have the tree removed (it's huge- it would be a nightmare!).
Thanks in advance
The general rule about trees that encroach on neighboring properties is that what's on YOUR side you can remove or trim back to the property line especially if it interferes with your property (such as falling leaves, overhanging branches, etc.). You would pay for it, ot you would ask them to share the cost, and you would need to take precautions to prevent permanent damage to the tree that might cause it to die. You might be able to sue for damages caused to your property as a direct result of the encroaching tree and roots.

As for the damage to your car? I think you'll have a difficult time expecting the neighbor to pay for that. As you said, the roots had been encroaching for some time, making it hard to park without hitting the stump. It was a known and obvious hazard - and an immovable object to boot - and you CHOSE to park there anyway. When you did so, you chose to take the risk of negotiating the driveway such that you might or might not hit that stump. If the stump was too big to miss, then you shouldn't have tried to park there - PERIOD. The fact that you hit it means that either your driving skills were lacking, or the stump was too large to avoid. File a claim with your insurance company to pay for the damages YOU caused to your own vehicle out of your own stubbornness.
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Old May 10th, 2013, 02:13 PM   #3
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Default Re: property and car damage from neighbor's tree root

Yeeeeeeeepppp.




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The general rule about trees that encroach on neighboring properties is that what's on YOUR side you can remove or trim back to the property line especially if it interferes with your property (such as falling leaves, overhanging branches, etc.). You would pay for it, ot you would ask them to share the cost, and you would need to take precautions to prevent permanent damage to the tree that might cause it to die. You might be able to sue for damages caused to your property as a direct result of the encroaching tree and roots.

As for the damage to your car? I think you'll have a difficult time expecting the neighbor to pay for that. As you said, the roots had been encroaching for some time, making it hard to park without hitting the stump. It was a known and obvious hazard - and an immovable object to boot - and you CHOSE to park there anyway. When you did so, you chose to take the risk of negotiating the driveway such that you might or might not hit that stump. If the stump was too big to miss, then you shouldn't have tried to park there - PERIOD. The fact that you hit it means that either your driving skills were lacking, or the stump was too large to avoid. File a claim with your insurance company to pay for the damages YOU caused to your own vehicle out of your own stubbornness.
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Old May 10th, 2013, 04:54 PM   #4
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Default Re: property and car damage from neighbor's tree root

I wish to inform you that you may request the court for injunctive relief, together with incidental and consequential damages as laid down in the case of Jones v. Wagner, 425 Pa. Super. 102, 624 A.2d 166 (1993). You may remove the tree limbs as needed and recover your expenses from your neighbor. You will not be held responsible for any consequent damage to the tree.

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Old May 10th, 2013, 05:28 PM   #5
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Default Re: property and car damage from neighbor's tree root

Thanks folks-

Point taken on the car responsibility!

Meanwhile, heard from the burough manager who said that the neighbor is definitely responsible for removing the portion of the tree causing problems to my property.
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Old May 11th, 2013, 10:18 AM   #6
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Default Re: property and car damage from neighbor's tree root

Quote:
Originally Posted by fizzy102 View Post
Hello- I'm in Easter Pennsylvania
I have a question regarding responsibility for damage to my driveway and vehicle from a large oak tree growing on my neighbors property. The roots of the tree have started to encroach on my driveway making it hard to back out without hitting the stump. I did, in fact hit the stump and damaged the side of my car.

This is a beautiful old tree and I would very much not want to have it removed, but I'm not sure if the stump can be cut without endangering it. I asked the neighbor if she'd share the cost of an inspection of the tree by a tree expert to see if this could be done and she flat out refused.

Can someone tell me what steps I would have to take to a) get her to pay for the damage to my car, and b) take some responsibility for the roots growing into my driveway. I'm worried that the cost of taking her to civil court would be more than the cost to repair the car. I'm also wondering, if I were to have the roots cut, and something happened to the tree, would I be responsible for the damage and have to pay to have the tree removed (it's huge- it would be a nightmare!).
Thanks in advance
The first thing I would do is contact your insurance company since you have damage to your property from the neighbor's tree. That is what homeowner's insurance is for. Your insurance company has lawyers on staff who would determine whether or not they are liable (most likely not), and would most likely encourage a claim against her insurance company.

What lies on your property can be cut, e.g. tree roots that invade. The rule is that she would be responsible for the costs, including removing the offending roots and repair to the driveway. Whether or not she would be liable for the damage to your car I would take up with your auto insurer. If they pay for the damage, assuming it is more than your deductible, they would claim against her and her insurer, homeowner's most likely.

Since the neighbor is unwilling to take responsibility, there is no way to force her except by making a claim. I would start with your insurance company(ies) first. They would then look to her to reimburse.
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