Massachusetts personal injury lawyer James M. Lynch explores a unique niche in Massachusetts law: replacement damages for cutting down a neighbor’s (nearly) priceless tree.
I’m not a big fan of raking leaves, but I do like trees. One large tree in my back yard provided me with a great place to hang my kids’ favorite swing. I know a few people who have commemorated special occasions like the birth of a child by planting a tree in their yard. What happens, though, when someone cuts down a tree on your property without your permission? Surprisingly, this happens quite a bit. Sometimes the tree blocks your neighbor’s view of the ocean, as occurred in one well known Massachusetts court case, or maybe a contractor doesn’t bother to look at the property line before it starts clearing out an area. Whatever the reason, the owner of the tree that was wrongfully cut down has a cause of action for compensatory damages under Massachusetts law against those who cut it down.
Compensatory damages are monetary damages intended to compensate a victim for his/her loss, but how do you compensate for a tree? Fortunately, the law helps us figure that out. If, for example, a ten year old twenty foot high oak tree was wrongfully cut down on your property, then the measure of your damages can be the cost to restore a ten year old twenty foot high oak tree back on your property. Ten year old twenty foot high oak trees are not regularly sold, but there are experts we utilize who can calculate this figure. The bad news for the person or company who wrongfully cut down your tree is that this restoration cost tends to be very expensive. The worse news for the person or company who wrongfully cut down your tree is the law calls for a trebling of the restoration cost damages for situations when the tree cutting was willful and knowing. Thus, a property owner may be entitled to receive up to three times the cost of restoring the lost tree, a hefty sum. That is tree cutting liability in Massachusetts.
Did someone cut down a tree on your property? Come in to Stevenson & Lynch, P.C. for a free one hour consultation to go over your rights so you can decide whether you want to pursue your claim.