Liability In RI For Tree Falls On Neighbor's Property - Tree damage Laws

Liability in RI for Tree Falls on Neighbor’s Property | Tree Damage Laws

When a tree falls over onto a neighbor’s property, homeowners often wonder if they are liable. Most people assume that they are liable since it is their tree. However, this is not always true. In this blog post, we will explore who is liable when a tree falls on a neighbor’s property in Rhode Island, the role of insurance, and the rights and responsibilities of the involved parties.

Liability for Tree Damage in Rhode Island

Is the tree owner responsible for damages?

In most cases, when a tree falls over onto a neighbor’s property, that neighbor should submit a claim to his or her insurance company immediately. As Gary Blackwell, an independent insurance agent based in Corinth, Maine, states, “If the neighbor’s tree falls on your house, it’s your problem,” and your insurer may reimburse you for repairs.

Trimming branches and roots

When a neighbor’s tree crosses onto your property, you have the right to trim the branches or roots back to the property line at your own expense. However, if you damage the health of the tree or trim branches on your neighbor’s property, you can face a criminal penalty of up to six months in jail.

Steps to Take When a Tree Falls on a Neighbor's Property

  • Assess the situation: Determine if anyone is injured or if there is immediate danger. Call 911 if necessary.
  • Notify your insurance company: Whether you are the tree owner or the affected neighbor, contact your insurance company as soon as possible to report the incident.
  • Document the damage: Take photos of the fallen tree and any property damage it has caused. This will be useful when filing insurance claims and for any potential legal disputes.
  • Remove the tree and repair the damage: Hire a professional tree removal service and a contractor to repair any property damage. Keep receipts and records of all expenses related to the incident.
  • Understand your rights and responsibilities: Familiarize yourself with Rhode Island laws regarding property lines and tree maintenance to avoid any legal disputes.


Understanding who is liable when a tree falls on a neighbor’s property in Rhode Island is essential for homeowners. Although the tree owner is not always responsible for damages, it is crucial to know your rights and responsibilities, and to communicate with your insurance company and affected neighbors. By following the steps outlined in this post, you can navigate these situations effectively and minimize potential conflicts.

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