Tree fell from my front yard across road. Neighbors can't drive to work. Do I have any liability?

It snowed nearly a foot last night, and this is extremely rare in Northern California. A tree fell across the street. I live on a dead end road. None of my neighbors can get to work and they are blaming me and demanding that I chainsaw it. I feel like it is the job for a public works crew while I sip hot cocoa. If there’s anything I learned from FW, it is that there’s pretty much no real liability when a tree falls. Is that the case in my situation? Any legal experts here?


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Is public works going to fix it? If not, how much would it cost to get rid of the tree?

There’s a guy on craigslist who says he wants $200 and he wants the wood.

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I’m considering putting a “free firewood” ad on craigslist to get someone out to chainsaw it up. I’m worried that they might leave a mess though.

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If the tree was not diseased, damaged, or in a precarious lean before a natural event took it down, no.

If I could buy the good will of all my neighbors that currently think I’m a jerk for $200, I’d do that.


You can call your road dept. to see if they do it. If its on the road, it might be their job.

Otherwise I’d just pay that guy $200

I think that “liability” is different than determining who’s responsible for removing the tree.


Doesn’t sound like neighborly spirit.

This happened to me a couple months ago, neighbor’s tree fell in a storm and broke our shared fence and my shed. His family, my family, and another neighbor (not even affected) spent a couple hours with a chainsaw and wheelbarrow and it was taken care of. We split the cost of the fence and shed.


Man. This makes me sad.

Yay, a tree thread!


Seriously though, this happened just last night and the neighbors are mad at you? They might just be mad about the situation. I think it might be your responsibility to arrange for it’s removal though. Is the tree preventing you from getting out, too?

It needs to be taken care of ASAP. Your neighbors do need to get to work and other places. Access for safety services would be a concern, too.


If no one heard it fall, did it make a sound?


First, is it an actual road? Or a glorified shared driveway? If it’s an actual road, did you call to report the tree blocking the road?

Other than that, the issue is people stranded on a dead end road, right? Why not get together with the neighbors and cut away a 10 ft section and just roll/drag it to the side. It doesn’t need cleaned up, the road just needs to be passable, then you can sip as much hot cocoa as you want.


In Virginia, a tree in the road is the responsibility of whoever is in charge of maintaining the road, either the city or VDOT. I would think things would be similar in California.

If none of the affected people are interested in doing ANY work to get themselves out and ONLY want you to do all the work, it sounds like you have terrible neighbors. The neighborly thing for YOU to do is to take the lead at cutting out a section so that cars can pass through. If you don’t already own a chainsaw, weren’t already planning on getting one, I don’t believe it is your responsibility to shell out for one or shell out for someone to cut it down. Asking around if anyone has one you can borrow, watching a youtube video on how to use it safely, and trying to remove a 10 ft section yourself is about as far as I would go if I were in your situation. If no one comes out to help you, take note and don’t plan to rely on your neighbors when the next mudslide/wild fire/earthquake happens.


Tell him you’ll pay him $200 to clean it up. Then charge him $200 for the wood. I thought it was near-universal that any offer of “free firewood” is conditioned on having to cut it up; no one is going to cut and stack it before giving it away. That this tree is laying on a road and not in some wooded area doesnt change that, it only makes it easier to harvest. I’d bet nearly anything that this guy plans to turn around and sell the wood to a third party who actually wants it, and will probably even have them come pick it up on-site.

How big is this tree anyways? Is it a 100 year old tree with 2-3 ft trunk, or a sapling that really not much more than a bunch of brush? I mean, a good tree thread is great, but pics are essential for providing the full experience.


$200, that’s a deal.

Just do something instead of sitting there. What’s wrong with people?

Home Depot rents both gas and electric chainsaw so that’s another option.


Is the tree still in the road? No closure from OP.


Maybe OP didn’t make it.


Tough neighbourhood.


Here’s an update. People started driving around the edge of the tree into my neighbor’s yard. This is a neighbor who maintains his yard like a gold course.

I called the city, they said they would come out. In the meantime, I used a movers coupon and bought a Husqvarna chainsaw at Lowes. I cut it back enough that a single lane of traffic could get through. Then the city showed up and cleared the tree to the edge of the road a day later.

A guy on craigslist who had his old truck covered in Trump stickers agreed to cut up the rest of the tree for firewood. He also said he’d clean up the lawn a bit in exchange for the wood. He actually did a really good job and everything is now back to normal. Rednecks to the rescue :slight_smile: