Lounging in the park, playing ball with a pet or jogging on park trails are all enjoyable and seemingly harmless activities. Each situation normally takes place in the presence of trees, which, by and large, should not be objects to fear. However, some individuals in New York City may feel differently.
Over the past few years, New York has had a number of serious pedestrian or bicycle accidents involving trees. At first glance it seems there is no culprit at whom to point a finger; trees are part of nature and we are at its mercy. But those struck by falling trees in New York may have some recourse.
One woman’s story begins with a creaking sound and ends with a tree limb the weight of a refrigerator falling and hitting her mother. Both women tried to escape the falling limb, but their efforts were not successful. In the end, this tree took the mother’s life.
Sadly, this was not the only incident involving falling tree branches causing death or serious injury. In the suits that followed these occurrences, evidence was brought to light showing inadequate tree care. Slow responses and poor communication were linked to these injuries and deaths as well.
City officials chalk the incidents up to the unpredictability of nature. Evidently, the jury in the matter of the dead woman didn’t feel nature was the only liable party, as it awarded the woman’s family $2.95 million for the death. While this amount was later reduced to $1.6 million, the recovery was still significant.
A number of other families were awarded hefty damages in light of tree-related incidents. One factor stuck out in almost every case: the noise made as the branches fell. The “boom” said it all. Once heard, the individuals involved had little time to react.
These stories are tragic. A loved one simply cannot be replaced. An individual in a similar situation may want to remember this story, and then contact an experienced personal injury attorney. While a loved one cannot be brought back to life, an attorney can help in the healing process by guiding an individual through the available options and helping to receive maximum compensation for the tragic loss.
Source: The New York Times, “With booms and creaks, a tree warns, often too late,” William Glaberson, May 14, 2012