Can a design professional be held liable for damage to a neighbors tree caused by the construction of an addition?

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Can a design professional be held liable for damage to a neighbors tree caused by the construction of an addition?

I am a residential designer and received a call from a neighbor of one of my
projects located in Reno Nevada stating that construction has damaged roots on my
clients property from a tree on the neighboring property causing part of the tree
on the neighbors property to lose its leaves and appears to be dying. He is
placing blame on me for not consulting the client about the tree. Am I or anyone
responsible for the tree on the neighboring property due to root damage on the
clients property?

Asked on July 8, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Nevada

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You could potentially be liable IF it could be shown that it was unreasonably careless to have planned or designed construction in that spot to that depth, because of a reasonably foreseeable risk of damage to that tree; and also IF it can be shown that the digging, etc. done at your instruction caused whatever damage the tree has suffered. (That is, they have show fault and causation both to hold you liable.) If the tree on the neighboring property was right on the border, near where you dug, they may be able to show that it was negligent to order digging there; but if the tree was not proximate to the digging, they may not be able to show that you should have anticipated roots there and taken steps to avoid damaging them (i.e. if the tree was not close by, there was nothing careles s in not trying to protect it).


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