My neighbor’s tree fell into my yard during the disaster. It smashed my fence and took out my landscaping. Can I make my neighbor pay for the fence repairs and landscaping?
If the tree was healthy before the disaster and the storm’s high winds caused the tree to fall over and damage your property, then you cannot hold your neighbor liable. This was an “Act of God.” However, if the tree was decayed, diseased, dead, or in an otherwise dangerous condition before the disaster, then you can hold him liable for damages. In this case, your neighbor was negligent in maintaining the tree. In that case, the tree would have posed an unreasonable risk of harm and your neighbor would have had a duty to trim the branches or remove the tree before the storm to prevent it from falling over. “It is established in our law that damages resulting from an act of God are not ordinarily chargeable to anyone. However, for a defendant to be relieved of liability for an unprecedented flood, there must be no negligence on his part concurring with the acts of God to cause the damage.”Luther Transfer & Storage, Inc. v. Walton, 296 S.W.2d 750, 753-754 (Tex. 1957) and cases cited therein; Hutchings v. Anderson, 452 S.W.2d 10, 15 (Tex. Civ. App. 1970). Home insurance should cover this type of damage.