Due to the close proximity of trees in the urban landscape, tree failures often result in personal injury and/or property damage. What the cause or why a tree failed is an important factor in tree accidents and related lawsuits.
The damage caused by a tree part or whole tree failure resulting from an extreme climatic event such as a hurricane or tornado may be viewed and defended as an "Act of God", a natural, unavoidable or unforeseeable catastrophe that interrupts to expected course of events. However, with increased understanding of tree mechanics, biology and structure, tree hazards and inherent risks can be identified and a prescribed course of action can reduce the tree risk.
Property owners are liable for the trees on their property. It is an owners' legal "duty of care" to properly inspect and ascertain if their trees may be causing a foreseeable problem or risk. When an owner identifies a possible hazardous tree condition, they recognize their responsibility to have a tree professional perform a tree risk assessment.
Tree risk assessments are undertaken when an owner recognizes that their tree(s) have potential to cause damage or injury. The assessment is intended to:
• limit the amount of risk to people in the vicinity of trees.
• limit the amount of risk to important property in the vicinity of trees.
• limit the amount of risk associated with owning trees.
• identify the highest risk trees that require immediate attention.
• recommend actions required to reduce the risk to an acceptable level.
Mr. Rappoport writes about the importance of tree selection and location in the urban landscape, and how a good tree in the wrong location can become a "risky" tree as it ages and matures.
"Far too often, the tree selection fails to properly match the cultural growth requirements of a tree with the correct location. Somewhat like trying to pound a square peg into a round hole. Since trees are long-lived organisms, the growth characteristics that make a tree unsuitable for a location do not manifest for ten or twenty years.
Homeowners typically make the mistake of not understanding the growth characteristics of trees. Or, they assume the tree wiil not be around twenty or thirty years later. So, a small pine tree planted near the neighbors property line doesn’t become a problem until two decades later when the tree roots encroach into the neighboring residence and the tree crown extend over the property line. These conditions create tree hazards that increase the risk and potential liability to property owners. "
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Jeremy Rappoport, President and founder of RDCS LLC provides landscape, arboriculture, horticulture, and land development expert witness consulting services for attorneys and insurers as well as professional consulting services for residential and commercial property owners, HOA's, and property management companies.
As a certified arborist and tree risk assessor, Mr. Rappoport provides tree risk assessments, tree health assessments, tree inventory and management plans for all size properties and uses.
Mr. Rappoport is an ISA certified arborist, #WE-9083A, as well as a certified tree risk assessor, #CTRA 1220. Mr. Rappoport is a C-27 California landscape contractor, #436000 and a professional Horticulturist, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Ornamental Horticulture from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.