Arboriculture and the Law: Who is Responsible?

Trees have legal rights too. This series is dedicated to frequently asked questions involving trees, zoning and municipal regulations.

Who is responsible for damages or injuries resulting from trees along a street or sidewalk?

Depends who you ask. Verdicts regarding responsibility for damages due to falling limbs or trees along a street or sidewalk vary greatly among municipalities and states. Many factors are weighed when liability is assessed. First it is important to know who owns the tree-a town or property owner? Should the owner have known that the tree presented a hazard? Who has been maintaining the tree? Is there a statute in place requiring a town to maintain the trees? There may also be issues of contributory liability. By going to your local town hall or speaking with your attorney, you can begin to get answers to some of these questions and better understand the local or state laws regarding tree liability in your area.

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Connecticut - Fairfield, Hartford, Litchfield, Middlesex, New Haven, New London, Tolland, Windham; Illinois - Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry County, Will; Maryland - Montgomery, Prince George's; New Hampshire - Rockingham; Massachusetts - Barnstable, Bristol, Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, Rockingham, Suffolk, Worcester; Minnesota - St. Paul, White Bear Lake, Stillwater, Woodbury, Mendota Heights, Sunfish Lake, Twin Cities; New Jersey - Bergen, Burlington, Essex, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union; New York - Bronx, Brooklyn, Columbia, Dutchess, Manhattan, Nassau, New York, Orange, Putnam, Queens, Rockland, Suffolk, Ulster, Westchester; Pennsylvania - Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Hampshire, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, York; Virginia - Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William; Washington, D.C.; Wisconsin - St. Croix.