A couple from North Dakota, Jessica and Troy Nelson, was killed week while vacationing in San Diego when a large tree collapsed onto the house they were renting during their stay. The couple was staying on the top floor of a two-story home in Point Loma Heights when heavy wind sent the tree crashing into the home.
Fox 5 San Diego reported that the incident occurred around 6 a.m. and the couple was upstairs sleeping. A third person was in the home on the first story—he was rescued by firefighters and was not seriously hurt.
According to neighbors, the owner of the home rents out the house as a short-term or vacation rental. When the crash occurred, many neighbors were woken up by the noise and hurried outside to see the tree toppled onto the home. One neighbor said the tree had been pruned and re-pruned, calling it “an accident waiting to happen.” Another neighbor reported the tree had been at the center of a dispute between the property owners on either side of the tree, with one owner “reluctant to have it removed.”
The San Diego Police Department is now working with several other agencies and the property owners to investigate the tragic incident. This investigation is very important because if it is determined that the couple was killed by a falling tree due to negligent property maintenance by the home owners, there may be a case for a Southern California wrongful death lawsuit.
Under California law, property owners have a responsibility to keep visitors on their land reasonably safe. Still, getting injured on someone else’s property (such as slipping, tripping, or being hit by a falling tree or branch) does not automatically impose premise liability on the property owner. To obtain a financial recovery for the loss, it must be shown that the owner or operator of the premises was negligent. Simply put, negligence means that the responsible person (the owner) did not take proper care or caution when they knew or should have known that proper care and caution was needed.
Sadly, fallen tree accidents occur more frequently than you might imagine in California. Often, these falling tree accidents are seen simply as accidents. However, this is not always true, and many accidents could be prevented. In this case, if the property owners knew or should have known that the large tree on their property posed a serious risk of falling onto the home, they can be found negligent and the family members of the victims in this case may be able to recover monetary compensation for their loss through a wrongful death claim.
Premise liability accidents can be complicated and proving negligence can be hard to do. If you have been injured on another’s property or have lost a loved one because of another’s failure to take proper care of their property, you should reach out to an experienced premise liability accident attorney. For over 40 years the California personal injury and wrongful death lawyers at Walch Law have been handling premises liability claims and are ready to help you obtain the recovery that you deserve. Contact us at 866-65-8792 for a free consultation.