By Jedidiah McKeehan Here’s a situation I personally encountered a number of years ago.  I received a phone call from a neighbor to a piece of property I owned informing me that a tree from my property had fallen on to his house, causing damage. I did not really comment other than saying something like, “thank you for letting me know.” The next thing I did was call up my insurance agent and tell him what had occurred and said, “Well, I guess you have to pay the guy, huh?” My insurance agent responds and says, “Oh no, unless you knew or should have known that the tree might fall, you are not liable.” And I found out he was right! It’s always nice when an insurance agent has to explain the law to a lawyer, ha. Let’s elaborate though on this.  If you have a tree on your property and you know that it’s dead or rotting, and it then falls and causes damage to someone else’s property, then you could be liable for the damage. How would someone know whether a tree is dead? Usually a tree is dead when it does not produce any more leaves and branches start falling off, but most people would deny knowing that a tree is dead if it might mean they owe someone money. To protect against this, one thing you can do is send a certified letter to your neighbor telling them that you believe that a tree they have is dead or rotting and is at risk of falling and asking them to cut branches off of it or cut the tree down completely. If you do this, then your neighbor cannot deny that they did not know that their tree may be at risk of falling. However, if you have a healthy tree, and it falls on your neighbor’s house, then you are not liable for the damage that your fallen tree caused.   Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including divorce, custody, criminal, personal injury, landlord-tenant, and estate planning. Visit for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.