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Merced Tree Accident Lawyer


Our Merced law firm has helped numerous people who were injured by falling trees and branches. We have expertise in handling complicated tree fall claims. We believe that negligent property owners should be held responsible for injuries that result from their neglected trees. Whether your injuries were caused by a tree on private or public property, we can help.

Our legal team has successfully litigated several large tree injury cases. As such, we know all too well that falling trees can cause severe injuries and death. One of the most common types of injuries caused by falling trees and falling tree limbs is traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). TBIs can cause long-lasting or permanent symptoms ranging from mild to catastrophic and disabling.

The trauma caused by an object as heavy as a tree or tree limb will cause significant injury to any part of a human that it strikes on its race to the ground.

Monetary Damages Caused by Falling Tree Injuries

The monetary damages associated with fallen tree injuries can be very significant. The damages include:

  • Hospital and Doctor Bills – Past & Future
  • Loss of Income – Past & Future
  • Pain
  • Suffering
  • Diminished Life Enjoyment
  • PTSD / Emotional Distress

If the injured person is married, his or her spouse may seek damages due to the changed marital relationship.

Who Owns and Maintains a Merced Tree?

City-owned trees are those trees located on public lands and easements. City trees are maintained by Merced’s Street Tree Division, which operates various tree care services. The Street Tree Division undertakes the removal of deadwood, stumps, and mistletoe and performs scheduled tree pruning, specialized tree treatments, and reforestation. The division also executes corrective measures and hazard elimination. One of the division’s goals is to ensure public safety while beautifying the City of Merced. They seek to reduce claims resulting from incidents caused by street trees through early identification of potential hazards.

Identifying potentially hazardous tree conditions is essential not just for a public entity like the city but also for private property owners. If an incident involving a falling tree or tree branch causes someone to be injured on private property, the landowner will likely be found responsible for damages.

When injuries from falling trees and tree limbs occur, retaining a lawyer experienced in tree injury cases is essential. Specific questions need to be addressed to achieve the best results for the injured person.

Who Owns Trees That Are Not City Trees?

According to the California Civil Code, determining the owner of a private tree is dependent on where the tree trunk stands. Section 833 and Section 834 explain, in essence, that if a tree trunk is fully contained within one parcel of land, that landowner owns the tree. If a trunk spans two adjacent plots, the owners of each plot are joint owners of the tree.

Who Maintains Private Trees?  

Private property owners (this includes homeowners) have a legal duty to maintain the trees on their property.

Private Tree Owners

If you have been injured by an unmaintained, dangerous tree on private property, and if the owner knew (had Actual Knowledge) or should have known (had Constructive Knowledge) that the tree was dangerous and did nothing to address the danger, he or she is responsible for monetary damages related to your injuries.

Merced Tree Attorney Can Establish Owner Negligence

Having an experienced tree injury attorney on your side as soon as possible after you or someone you love has been injured by a fallen tree is crucial. A claim involving a fallen tree or tree branch presents numerous obstacles, and a legal representative will help protect your rights.

One obstacle is the defense used by insurance companies, known as the “force of nature” or “act of God.” When weather conditions involve a tree-related injury, you can be sure the insurance adjuster assigned to the claim will try to rely on the “nature” exclusion. An experienced Merced tree attorney can effectively argue that even if the weather was a factor, the negligence of the tree owner played a crucial role in causing injuries.

What Happens If a Merced Tree Causes Injuries?  

Regular inspections and scheduled maintenance are not just crucial for city trees. A private property owner can be found negligent and, therefore, responsible if their tree causes injuries to someone. While inspections and maintenance performed by a certified arborist will cost some money, it is an investment that can protect the property owner in the long run. Monetary damages awarded for injuries caused by falling trees or branches can be significant. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Legal Time Limits

The statute of limitations (when you must settle a claim or file a lawsuit) in California is two years. But there are circumstances when the statute is shorter or longer – another good reason to consult an experienced Merced tree injury attorney.

  • City/County/Government Claims: Injuries caused by a falling tree on public property have a shorter time limit. If a claim against the public entity is not initiated within six months of the date of the injury, your rights to recover damages will be lost.
  • Injury to a Child:  An injured minor must file a lawsuit or have settled the claim before the second anniversary of the minor reaching 18.
Conditions That Can Cause Trees to Fall

A healthy, vigorous tree should withstand regular wind and rain. Some circumstances put trees at risk for falling:

  • Root Rot or Trunk Rot
  • Diseases, Fungus, or Insect Infestations
  • Bad Weather Conditions, Exceptionally Heavy Rain, or Strong, Gusty Winds
  • Long-Term Drought
  • Neglect of Regular Maintenance, such as Scheduled Pruning
Merced: Tree City USA

Merced is a proud Tree City USA, a recognition given by the Arbor Day Foundation for cities with excellent urban forest management. Merced has approximately one tree per resident or around 88,000 trees.

During the years-long drought Northern California withstood a few years back, many of the city’s redwood trees died. Some redwoods in Bob Carpenter Park, Applegate Park, and Rahilly Park had to be removed. The redwoods had been planted in the San Joaquin Valley, although they thrive in areas where the natural climate is moist and cool. Merced and the entire San Joaquin Valley, especially during low rainfall, essentially has the opposite of that climate.

During the prolonged drought of 2011-2015, Merced lost over 100 trees, not all of which were redwoods. Some were street trees of other varieties. The city responded to the lost trees by creating plans to replant gradually. The replanting would not replace the redwoods but rather substitute native trees that thrive in the Area, such as maple and ash.

The city decided to cut down and remove many decaying trees because dying and dead trees pose significant public safety concerns. Every year in California, neglected trees come crashing to the ground, causing extensive property damage, serious injuries, and even deaths. When that happens, a trusted, experienced Merced tree injury attorney should be retained to help the injured person.

The video below shows drone footage of drought-caused dead trees in Merced.

12 Merced Trees that are Native to the Area
  • Fremont Cottonwood
  • Blue Oak (aka Mountain Oak or Iron Oak)
  • Blue Elderberry (aka Mexican Elderberry or Tapiro)
  • Valley Oak
  • White Alder
  • Red Willow
  • Arroyo Willow
  • California Buckeye (aka California Horse-Chestnut)
  • Goodding’s Black Willow
  • Sandbar Willow
  • Oregon Ash
  • Dusky Willow (salix melanopsis)
Merced Tree Accident Lawyer

Falling tree trunks, branches, and limbs cause serious injuries every year. Sometimes, those injuries are fatal. If you or anyone you love suffered injuries caused by a falling, neglected tree, contact our law office at (209) 227-1931 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly advice. We have 40 years of experience assisting injured Merced residents in receiving monetary damages. Our firm takes tremendous pride in each of our cases. See a sampling of our successful verdicts and settlements.

Editor’s Note: updated [cha 8.24.23] Image by Peggy Choucair from Pixabay mm llo [cs 1334]