While trees can fall during any reasons, summer is a high-risk time due to thunderstorms and wind storms. Either a falling tree or falling branches from a tree could cause substantial damage to property and could cause serious injury. Friends of Tree City USA warns tree owners are typically held responsible when there is damage caused by a falling tree. If the tree falls in a public park, those who are in charge of maintaining the park and trees could be held responsible. If the tree falls on private property, a premises liability lawyer can provide assistance to victims in determining whether a property owner or manager should be liable for covering losses.
This summer is the ideal time for homeowners and owners or managers of commercial property to take some careful steps and ensure they do not have any hazard trees on property. A hazard tree is defined as a tree which has a potential to fall in an area where it could land on people or property. Dead branches on a tree where the branches could fall on someone are always a red flag as they could fall at any time even on a calm day.
Identifying Tree Hazards Creating Injury Risks
Certain trees are more prone to breakage and being uprooted than others. Trees to watch carefully include silver maples, box elders, and willows, all of which tend to be more brittle and could be more likely to have broken tree limbs. All trees, however, should be systematically checked for signs of impending breakage or for dead limbs likely to fall on people or property.
Some signs there could be a problem with a particular tree include:
- Dead branches. Dead branches are referred to as "widow makers" by loggers because of the significant possibility the branches could fall at any time. They need to be removed right away.
- Crossing branches or branches which rub. When branches rub on each other, this creates weak points where a branch could brake and fall. Prompt pruning as soon as overlap occurs protects against future harm.
- Forked trunks. When the trunk of a tree becomes forked, this is a potential sign of weakness and should be treated as a red flag. If one side of the fork stops growing up and starts growing in an outward direction, this exacerbates the danger of the weak tree. Early pruning of one part of the forked trunk could help to solve this problem, while cables and braces can strengthen the fork if you desire to keep the tree.
- Leaning. If the tree suddenly begins to lean, this could be an indictor the roots of the tree have become weak or the tree is about to break. Sudden leaning will require prompt action before a tree falls and causes injuries.
- Signs of root decay. Mushrooms near the base of the tree may suggest a fungus causing root problems. Root decay is often unnoticeable until it has become advanced and the tree tips over as a result of root problems.
If property owners watch for these signs of tree issues and take action, hopefully injuries from falling trees can be prevented.