Not sure who to call if a tree falls on your house during a storm? Here’s where to start

·3 min read
PEDRO PORTAL/pportal@miamiherald.com

It is no secret that Charlotte is home to an abundance of trees throughout the city.

The city’s Tree Management department estimates there are about 200,000 trees aligned along streets and throughout neighborhoods.

With that many trees scattered around the city and with the state’s tendency to be home to severe storms throughout the spring and summer, it’s possible they can be a potential danger, too.

Recently, fallen trees landed on utility equipment during a weekend storm leaving 1,200 Duke Energy customers without power for several hours.

Here is who you should call if a tree falls on your property:

Trees that fall on Charlotte streets

If a downed tree is covering a road, you should call 911 immediately, according to the City of Charlotte. The city will dispatch a team to clear the public roads and streets of debris but only as long as the debris is within city limits. If the tree happened to fall from private property onto public property, the city will place the debris back onto the private property where it originated. Debris from the tree then becomes the responsibility of the property owner to clear.

For issues related to trees on public property that would be considered a non-emergency, you can fill out a form provided by the city’s tree management department.

Take these steps if a tree falls on your Charlotte property

In this case, you’ll only need to call 911 if someone is hurt or if the tree led to significant damage such as a fire. If a call to emergency personnel is not necessary, the city recommends private property owners contact their insurance companies.

After your insurance has been contacted, you can then hire a company to remove the tree and debris from your property.

If a public tree fell onto your home, you should still call 911 in the event someone was hurt or the tree creates a hazard. Also contacting your insurance company should still be the next second call if reaching out to emergency personnel is not necessary.

Since the tree in this instance is a public tree, you have the option to file a claim against the city by contacting the City of Charlotte Risk Management at claims@charlottenc.gov or (704) 336-3301.

A tree that falls from a neighbor’s property on yours

Trees that fall from your neighbor’s property are not considered public trees, the city says. In this case, the situation is a civil matter and you will have to work with your neighbor to have the tree and debris removed.

Your insurance company may contact your neighbor’s insurance company in an attempt to collect the cost of damages incurred by the falling tree, but only if it can be proven that the tree was in bad condition before it fell.

“In most jurisdictions, if the tree causing the damage is healthy the owner of the damaged property submits the claim to his or her insurance,” according to a State Farm Insurance statement.

“If a customer feels a neighbor’s tree poses a threat to their property, from deteriorating tree health or other similar concerns, they are encouraged to share their concerns with their neighbor,” State Farm said.