Damage to property and persons caused by heavy winds will inevitably lead to legal disputes over who will have to take ultimate responsibility for the compensation bill.
Insurance companies have already made significant allowances in their reserves for dealing with increased compensation claims following Storms. However, the battle between Local Authorities, businesses and even domestic homeowners over legal liability for the damages bill may yet end up in the Courts. The last very bad weather spell saw a significant increase in the number of compensation claims for damage caused by fallen trees, loose objects and defective structures.
Liam Moloney, Personal Injury Solicitor said today “Insurance companies whose policy holders are facing claims are actively investigating whether they blame Local Authorities and other parties for not acting promptly to remove trees and other sources of danger from public roads and footpaths before accidents have occurred”.
He added “the common law of negligence imposes a duty of care on occupiers to take reasonable care in all the circumstances to ensure that visitors to their premises do not suffer injury or damage by reason of any dangers existing on their premises and that duty would include trees that overhang a public road if they collapse and cause an injury”.
He warned business and homeowners to also be aware of their legal duty to ensure that all trees on their premises have been inspected thoroughly for signs of decay.
He continued “the failure by land owners whose boundaries contain high trees which sit alongside a public road or footpath to regularly inspect these trees for signs of decay could make them legally responsible to compensate any person injured as a result of the tree falling”.