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Who is responsible for hurricane damage to your home caused by your neighbor’s property?

If your home is damaged during a hurricane due to a fallen tree or debris from your neighbor’s property, who is responsible for the costs of the damages? It depends.


A property owner is not necessarily liable for damages his property caused to his or her neighbor, unless the neighbor can establish that the property was in poor condition and the owner knew or should have known that it was a hazard to neighboring properties. This situation often arises with fallen trees or branches, but can also involve other debris that damages a neighbor’s property, such as solar panels, shutters, or other objects that come loose during a storm.


The Louisiana Civil Code states that a property owner is responsible for damage caused by the property’s “ruin, vice, or defect,” only upon a showing that the property owner knew or should have known of the hazard that caused the damage, that the damage could have been prevented by the exercise of reasonable care, and that he failed to exercise such reasonable care. This also applies to blighted property or structures in disrepair that collapses during a storm.


For example, in order for a property owner to establish liability for damage caused by their neighbor’s fallen tree, the property owner will need to show that the neighbor knew or should have known that the tree was at risk of falling, that the damage could have been prevented by the neighbor’s exercise of reasonable care to remove or trim the tree, and that the neighbor failed to take any measures to prevent the tree from falling and damaging the neighboring property.


If you have any questions regarding your rights as a property owner who experienced damage caused by your neighbor’s property or need assistance with any real estate matters, please contact Johnston Burkhardt at (504)324-2141 or Johnston@qtsnola.com.

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