Trees are a beautiful example of natureâ€™s decor. They are lovely, relaxing to look at, and contribute to a healthy environment by eliminating carbon dioxide from the air and replacing it with fresh oxygen produced by photosynthesis. In certain circumstances, however, trees can cause serious injuries and even death.
In September 2015 a large tree in Bryant Park in New York City broke in two and fell onto a crowd of people, injuring five. The top portion, which was an estimated 25 feet tall, started leaning over before breaking with a deafening snap and falling onto some chess players below. Even those nearby reported getting wood splinters in their eye.
Larger, older trees have huge limbs that can fall due to rot, heavy winds, or ice accumulation. When they strike people passing below, the result can be catastrophic. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there are over 100 fatalities every year that can be attributed to falling trees. With literally millions of trees in New Yorkâ€™s parks and public areas, monitoring all of them for disease or decay is a daunting task, but failure to do so can result in tragedy.
Falling trees or tree limbs can cause injuries like the following:
- Broken bones
- Severe and painful bruising
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
Sometimes it can be hard (if not impossible) to anticipate the collapse of a tree or branch. In general, a person cannot be held liable for such an occurrence if they had no way of predicting it (e.g. the tree appeared to be perfectly healthy). However, when it is reasonably foreseeable that a dangerous condition could develop and the owner fails to deal with it, it is a different story. For example, if a tree or its branches are visibly rotten and the party in care and control of the premises fails to remove them, then New York State law says that they can be held responsible if that tree falls on someone or topples into a roadway and causes a car accident.
If you or someone you love has been injured or killed by a fallen tree or branch in New York State, then you may be able to sue for:
- Medical and rehabilitative treatment
- Loss of current and future wages
- Pain and suffering, both past and future
- Wrongful death
- Loss of consortium
A New York personal injury attorney who specializes in premises liability can represent you in a lawsuit against the property owner who was demonstrably negligent in keeping the area safe. They will help you fight to receive the compensation you require to pay your current and future expenses so that financial concerns do not impede your recovery.