LEGAL CORNER: If a branch from my neighbor's tree falls on my car, are they liable?

LEGAL CORNER: If a branch from my neighbor's tree falls on my car, are they liable?

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QUESTION: The hood of my car has a big scratch, which I suspect is from falling limbs from my neighbor's tree.  I would have to pay a $500 deductible if I want it repaired. Can I make the neighbor pay me back for that?

When a tree owner is made aware of a defective tree, the owner becomes liable for any damages resulting from the defects of the tree. However, this theory does not apply to all trees. Some damages from trees, or the limbs of trees falling are classified as "act of God" damages – they could not be foreseen, and the tree owner cannot be held liable for those damages.

However, there are two burdens to overcome: proof and liability.

Proof is not obvious in this instance, and the mover in any case has the burden of proving the source of the damages. This is not one of the situations where the source is presumed. So, unless the tree owner acknowledges his or her tree caused the damage, it may be difficult to prove.

As far as liability, the viewer would have to prove that the owner was put on notice of a defective or rotting tree.

QUESTION: There is a city ordinance that prohibits the sale of hard alcohol, such as vodka, rum and tequila, within the city limits on Sundays. Why was this law enacted in the first place? Supposing it originated from that, what can we, the citizens, do to get this ordinance overturned or will we be forced to travel outside the city limits to purchase alcohol? 

ANSWER: Since it is a city ordinance, you are free to contact and/or petition your city council representative and make known your position.

You can find out who your representative is by visiting the city's website: If you click on "City Council" it will direct you to the different districts.

Some cities, such as Baton Rouge, are attempting to repeal some of their Sunday liquor laws. You can inquire of your council member if there is a local movement to do the same. However, traveling outside the city limits may not be the solution because there are also parish restrictions on Sunday liquor sales.

The question about the origin of the law and its distinguishing beer and wine from hard liquors is not a legal one. So we can offer no opinion on the purpose of the ordinance or the reason that it applies differently to different types of alcohol.

QUESTION: If I see a coyote or a feral hog on my property, can I shoot them at all times of the year?

ANSWER: Holders of a valid Louisiana hunting license may take coyotes and feral hogs where legal and armadillos year-round during legal daylight shooting hours (see Nighttime Take of Nuisance Animals & Outlaw Quadrupeds). The running of coyotes with dogs is prohibited in all turkey hunting areas during the open turkey season. Coyote hunting is restricted to chase only when using dogs during still hunting segments of the firearm and archery only season for deer. Foxes are protected quadrupeds and may be taken only with traps by licensed trappers during the trapping season. Remainder of the year "chase only" allowed by licensed hunters.

On private property, the landowner, or his lessee or agent with written permission and the landowner's contact information in his possession, may take outlaw quadrupeds (coyotes, armadillos and feral hogs), nutria or beaver during the nighttime hours from one-half hour after official sunset on the last day of February to one-half hour after official sunset the last day of August of that same year. Beginning Aug. 15, 2011, the method of such taking shall be with any legal firearm and may be with or without the aid of artificial light, infrared or laser sighting devices, or night vision devices. Anyone taking part in these activities at night is required to notify the parish sheriff's office 24 hours in advance of any such hunt.

Disclaimer: The information furnished in this answer is general and may not apply to some situations. All legal situations are unique. No one should rely to their detriment on these answers. Anyone with a potential legal problem should seek the advice of a licensed attorney before taking any action or inaction. The answers provided are not intended to be specific legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is created between the SWLA Law Center and the viewers of KPLC TV.

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