If my vehicle was in the company parking lot and was damaged my a tree that is on my employer’s property, is it liable?

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2022

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If my vehicle was in the company parking lot and was damaged my a tree that is on my employer’s property, is it liable?

It happened in the parking lot where I am told to park. The damage done is $2,400.

Asked on October 27, 2015 under Accident Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

The employer is liable only if it was at fault in some way--liability is based on fault, not merely on owning property. They would be at fault only if they knew or reasonably should have known (any reasonable person in their place would have known, based on the visible or obvious evidence) that the tree posed a greater-than-usual risk due to being dead, sick, damaged, obviously leaning and poised to fall, etc. If they did know (or should have known) of an enhanced risk but failed to address it (e.g. by trimming, or even cutting down, the tree), then that may have been negligent, or unreasonably careless. However, if there was no reason to think this tree posed an unusual or enhanced risk there would have been no reason for them to take action, and so they would not have been negligent--and therefore also not liable.
Bear in mind that even if the employer may have been liable, if they won't pay voluntarily, you'd have to sue for the money; and suing your employer is a drastic step that could have serious consequences, such as being terminated. You need to carefully consider what to do.

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