Legal Question in Personal Injury in California

I have some trees on my property that I am going to take down. I thought by chance someone may want them for fire wood. I put an add on Craigslist and someone wants them. They are going to come and take them down cut them up and use them for fire wood. They are not being paid they are not paying me. They are using all of their own tools. My question is, if one of them gets hurt am I liable.

Asked on 9/10/13, 6:52 pm

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4 Answers from Attorneys

Ben Glen Law Offices of Ben Glen, PC

You could be, depending on what happens. If they are cutting wood on your property and trip and fall, fall from a diseased tree or otherwise get injured by a dangerous condition on your property or even on the sidewalk adjacent to your property, you could be liable, but your homeowner's insurance might cover this.

Since you have "invited " them onto your property, you owe them the duty to not subject them to dangers--even some you might regard as "minor." You also have to look out for their safety. Also, since you are benefitting from their "work", if any of them get hurt in any way, claims might be made.

Even with a waiver or release signed by them, it could be construed as being against public policy and be ruled as void or voidable, so as to permit a claim. However, to best protect yourself, call your homeowner's insurance representative and ask them. If their answer is favorable to you, have them put that answer in writing--say, for example, in an e-mail and have them make their answer detailed and/or you should detail it to your insurer and you should get a confirming response from them.

This is only a small part of my concerns and not intended to be taken as legal advice upon which you should rely. For that , I suggest you hire a lawyer.

Kind regards,

Thank you for your question.

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Answered on 9/10/13, 7:43 pm

Edward Hoffman Law Offices of Edward A. Hoffman

I agree with Mr. Glen. Note also that the falling trees might injure other people (including you or your family) or damage someone's property (including yours). You might well be liable for any resulting harm to others, and you might have to absorb any losses to yourself or your family.

These risks might be minor if the trees are unlikely to hit anyone or anything of value on the way down. The zip code you provided is in a fairly rural area, so perhaps there isn't much reason to worry. But you should evaluate the risks carefully before you decide what to do.

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Answered on 9/11/13, 12:12 pm
Edward Hoffman Law Offices of Edward A. Hoffman

Bear in mind that some places might require a permit to cut down trees, even on one's own property -- or, in this instance, on someone else's property with the owner's permission. Such permits might be fairly easy to get, or they might require proof that the person doing the cutting has some expertise.

Even if there's no need for a permit, you may want to ask this gentleman about his experience. The more he knows about cutting trees, the less likely he is to create any problems.

In some instances, cutting down a tree might be illegal. For example, if the tree is habitat for an endangered or threatened species -- or is a member of such a species itself -- removing it might bring criminal charges and/or civil penalties. If your land is next to or within a state or national forest, it might be subject to rules that wouldn't apply to other properties nearby. It's also possible that environmental conditions in your area (erosion, drought, fire damage, etc.) have led to temporary restrictions.

Please also consider the risk of starting a fire, especially if the trees could fall on electrical or telephone wires. Much of California is quite dry at the moment, as shown by the numerous ongoing wildfires. Sparks from a chainsaw or other equipment could start a major new fire.

I realize that this sounds a bit alarmist. For all I know, your property is remote and has received plenty of rain recently. But the fact that you posted the question shows that you want to take sensible precautions. I'm just trying to help you identify some that you may not have thought of. There are probably other areas of concern that I'm not thinking of, too.

Good luck.

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Answered on 9/11/13, 12:28 pm
John Laurie Gertz and Laurie

I agree with the above

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Answered on 9/15/13, 10:28 pm

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