What to do when a tree falls

What to do when a tree falls

Here’s a great question to address during this summer season of sudden, violent storms: What should you do when a tree falls? For the answer, and some practical advice, we turn to Matt Davenport, our Safety Coordinator/Certified Arborist, who has 23 years of experience in the tree industry.


First, Matt says, stay calm.

Your immediate job is to distinguish whether a tree down is an emergency or a high priority. An emergency is a tree falling on a structure or vehicle or blocking a driveway or entrance to a private neighborhood (for example, a gated community). A high priority is a tree falling in your yard but not on a structure or vehicle. In either case, your first call should be to Arborscapes if you’re in the Charlotte area – (704) 525-7148. Be prepared to explain your situation. We will respond.

If a fallen tree blocks the entrance to a public neighborhood (for example, most subdivisions) or a public street, the city takes care of it. Call 911.

If a fallen tree lands on any electrical source, call your local power provider. (In this area, likely Duke Energy) And stay away from it.

Here’s another great question:

What if a neighbor’s tree falls on your home, vehicle, driveway or yard? Who’s responsible for paying for the resulting damage?

The affected homeowner should make the claim with his or her insurance. But there is a general rule that states: “Your property, your problem.” However, if the neighbor’s tree that toppled had been neglected, your homeowner’s insurance might be able to collect from the neighbor’s insurance. In the same vein, if a tree on public land topples onto your property, you may be able to collect from the city’s insurance.

Here’s a crucial piece of advice: Your insurance has a better chance of collecting from a neighbor’s insurance if you had put in writing beforehand your concerns about a tree being neglected and/or at risk of falling. That will help your case when filing an insurance claim.

You have the right to trim any part of a neighbor’s tree hanging over your property line. It’s always best to work with your neighbor to find a mutually beneficial solution.

As for vehicles, if a tree lands on one of yours, most Americans have the type of insurance that will cover it. If you don’t, you should.

Storms or no storms, Matt offers this final recommendation: If you have any concern about a tree in your yard – you’ve noticed signs of decay or a cavity perhaps – schedule a free visit from an arborist from Arborscapes. We’re trained to spot trouble before it happens. Call us at (704) 525-7148 to make an appointment.

Thanks to VERIFY and reporter Evan Koslof for providing information. Photo by Mick Haupt

  • How can we help you?

    We can use mobile numbers to send appointment reminders if provided.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.