Who Is Responsible for a Fallen Tree?



With temperatures rising, many families are anticipating road trips through Utah’s beautiful forested highways. Most families, however, do not anticipate finding themselves injured by a fallen tree while driving to a campsite. Furthermore, when the 10-day forecast consistently predicts 90-degree weather, most people don’t foresee disaster while they’re choosing the parking spot under a cluster of shady trees. Unfortunately, decaying trees have the potential to catastrophically damage property and critically injure people. Just recently, a fallen tree fatally injured a motorcyclist riding near Cedar Canyon. Tragically, this is not an isolated incident; numerous people are critically injured by fallen trees each year.


Although most people do not imagine being injured by a fallen tree, decaying trees are actually quite common—especially in Utah’s heavily forested areas and along scenic highways. Though there are many signs a tree may be at risk of falling, trees in heavily forested areas are not usually monitored for symptoms of decay. In fact, decaying trees are often left alone in order to promote the health of the environment. When hiking through Utah’s scenic forests, hikers should be careful not to spend too much time resting under decaying trees, as they could potentially fall without warning.

Signs a tree is about to collapse:

    • There are cracks in the trunk
    • There’s fungus near the base of the tree.
    • Branches are falling off the tops of the tree.
    • The soil around the tree is cracked
    • Places on the tree are missing bark
    • The tree is located near water


In Utah, determining who owns a tree is a rather simple matter: whoever owns the property the trunk is located on, owns the tree. Whereas determining the owner of the tree is a simple matter, due to extenuating circumstances, you may find that receiving compensation for your injuries can be a difficult and exhausting matter. 


Regrettably, a contentious battle over property damages is the least of your worries when a tree has fallen on your car while you’re inside it. Medical bills can pile up quickly, and, due to the complicated nature of policies, compensation for the injuries you’ve sustained may not always be readily available. The internet is full of varying information on who is at fault when a tree falls on you and your car. Furthermore, available online resources regarding compensation are even more nebulous.

 Since insurance companies differ widely in policies and coverage, you may find yourself burdened with many costly medical bills. When a windstorm tore through Utah in September 2020, many people were left hoping their insurance companies would cover the cost of their damages. However, those unlucky enough to hit recently fallen trees and branches while driving, discovered that insurance only covers the car’s damage if they have collision insurance. This example is just one of many that demonstrates the complicated nature of insurance coverage and compensation.

No one anticipates a tree falling on top of their car, but falling trees can cause life-threatening and even fatal injuries. Given the confusing and convoluted nature of liability and insurance policies, having representation may be necessary in order to ease the various burdens a fallen tree can leave you with. If you have been seriously injured, Moxie Law Group can offer relief and guidance.