What is our responsibility compared to our neighbor’s where debris from neighbor’s yard has fallen onto our property?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What is our responsibility compared to our neighbor’s where debris from neighbor’s yard has fallen onto our property?

A storm came through and took a branch down from a tree in our neighbor’s

yard, ripping a hammock down as well as creating holes in our lawn. Normally, I understand that this would be our responsibility as it fell in our yard. However, a month ago, this neighbor had 10 branches from this particular tree that were hanging over his house removed which left 5 other branches from this tree hanging over our property unremoved. How does this last fact change things in terms of responsibility?

Asked on July 22, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

IF the branches hanging over your yard were obviously dead, dying, injured, too long, etc. and so posed a greater-than-normal risk, then your neighbor's failure to remove them when he had a clear opportunity (the tree trimming) do so would make him liable to for the damage you suffered: a failure to mitigate (take steps to reduce) a known or obvious risk when you have the opportunity to do so is negligent, or unreasonably careless, and can establish liability. In this case, if he will not voluntarily pay for your damage, you could sue him (e.g. in small claims court) with a reasonable chance of winning.
If the branches did not seem to pose a greater-than-normal risk and came down only because of a storm, which is not something under your neighbor's control, then he would NOT be liable, since he did nothing wrong. You would have to bear your own repair, etc. costs.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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