Posted 06 August 2013 - 12:24 PM
My wife had a tree limb fall on our s.u.v. while parked on her company's property. The maintenance man at the facility removed the tree limbs and several members of the staff visually inspected the damage. She was told by the administrator to get three estimates and submit them, which we did. The vice president of the company told the administrator that the company would not be paying for any damages since this was considered an "act of God". Later, my wife was shown a section of the employee handbook where this type of damage was not covered. The problem is she is a contract worker and was never given a copy of the employee handbook and as such would not have known about this policy. I assumed that the company would have Property & Casualty insurance visit homepage for just this type of issue. Do we have a case against the company for the $2500 it will take to repair the hood? Thanks.
Posted 06 August 2013 - 12:54 PM
The employee handbook is irrelevant.
As an initial matter, it's not clear who owns the property where the tree is located or whether, if your wife's employer does not own the property, her employer has exclusive possession of the part of the property where the tree is located. For purposes of responding, I'll assume that her employer either owns or has exclusive possession of the property
It seems to be a common myth that, if Person X is injured (or if Person X's personal property is damaged) while on Person Z's property, Person Z is automatically liable. To the contrary, a person who owns or is in legal possession of real property is not an absolute guarantor of the safety of persons who come onto the property or the safety of personal property brought onto the real property by others. Such a person has a duty to persons who come onto the property to remedy or warn of known hazards. A tree, however, is not a hazard of which such a person has a duty to warn. Why? Because a tree is obvious to anyone coming onto the property. Any person of reasonable intelligence knows that, if you park a car under a tree, the possibility exists that parts of the tree (or all of it, for that matter) might fall on the car. Generally speaking that possibility is relatively small. It is also generally true that most persons who are not arborists cannot predict when a branch might fall off a tree.
In your wife's situation, the only way her employer has any liability is if the employer knew or had reason to know that the tree was in a condition such that falling limbs were reasonably foreseeable. Otherwise, your wife's employer had no more ability than she did to predict what happened.
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