Decatur woman liable for neighbor’s tree that caused damage to her home

A woman in Alabama disputes that she should be responsible for the damage her neighbor’s tree caused to her own home. (Source: WAFF)
Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 10:45 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 7, 2023 at 6:14 AM CST
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DECATUR, Ala. (WAFF) - A neighbor’s tree crashed into Maria Flores’s home on Moulton Street in Decatur on Friday. Though the tree is not from her property, she is liable for the cost of the damage. However, Flores does not have insurance.

“If I pull something over there, then the whole house is coming down,” she said. “They told me insurance agents will not cover anything because it’s a natural disaster. So I’m responsible for my neighbor’s tree, and I thought about it. I’m not the one with a tree in the middle of my yard.”

Legal experts say state law requires the homeowner with the damage to pay for repairs via their homeowner’s insurance, but because she does not have insurance, she will pay for the damage out of pocket.

“[Insurance is] too expensive. It’s a story size, and they say it’s like $300 a month,” she said. “I can’t afford it. It’s too much for me.”

Her biggest frustration is a technicality in the law, forcing her to get a bank loan to pay off the damage.

“It’s supposed to be someone’s responsibility, not mine because the tree wasn’t in my yard,” she said. “I don’t know who made that law, it’s not fair.”

According to state law, the only way Flores’s neighbor would be liable is if the neighbors showed negligence to their property. This could mean poor care for the tree.

Attorney Marcus Helstowski told WAFF 48 that cases like this are unfortunate because homeowners do not have control over natural disasters.

“It’s an unfortunate and it’s kind of a simple topic, but it is unfortunate that somebody would be responsible for their own damages. When the damage was actually caused by somebody else’s property being the tree, but the unfortunate circumstances, that’s the law in the state of Alabama at this point in time,” he said.

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