Who is liable for tree removal damages if the wrong owner’s tree is removed?

UPDATED: Sep 4, 2011

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Who is liable for tree removal damages if the wrong owner’s tree is removed?

As a tree removal contractor is it my responsibility to verify tree ownership and property lines. If I receive a call for tree removal, remove the tree that was requested by customer to later find out that the tree wasn’t on the customer’s property, am I liable for the damages? Is it my responsibility to verify property lines and ownership before removal. I live in WAand any information you maybe able to provide would be great.

Asked on September 4, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Washington


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If you are a licensed tree removal contractor, your duty is to remove the specific tree that a customer tells you to remove under the assumption that the tree being removed is authorized to be removed and the customer advising you to remove it either owns the land where the tree is situated or is authorized to have the tree removed for its owner.

You have no duty to verify property lines of parcels to establish on whose property the desired tree to be removed is located.

If the person who told you to remove a certain tree was on that person's property, you removed it and the tree turned out to be on someone else's property, the person ultimately responsible for any claims of liability and damages would be the person who instructed you to remove that particular tree.

Hopefully you have a policy of insurance in place.

Good luck.

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