As I was driving home last week, a tree fell on top of my vehicle. Thank God I am alive! My vehicle suffered damage and I suffered soft tissue damage--again, thank God I was able to walk away. My insurance company is handling my vehicle repairs and medical expenses. Should I also have a lawyer assisting me on legal matters? Or should I soley rely on my insurance company? A friend told me that the property owner may be liable for my misfortune. What would you advise me to do?
Your auto insurance company should pay for the repairs to your vehicle (less your deductible) and you may have medical payments coverage for medical bills and expenses up to the limit of your medpay coverage with your auto insurer. If you have health insurance, I would recommend that you submit your medical bills to them 1st and use your medpay coverage (under your auto policy) to cover your out of pocket portion of the bills (i.e., co-pays & deductibles). You may have a claim against the owner of the tree depending upon who that owner is (i.e., a municipality vs. a business or homeowner) and depending upon whether that owner had any knowledge of disease or other structural weakness in the tree. The only way to find that out might be to file a lawsuit and do some discovery on that issue. If your damages are minimal and mostly covered by your health & auto insurance then it might not be worth it to pursue this case in litigation - that is up to you. I would start by notifying the owner of the tree and requesting that they notify their insurer. If you know more about the tree or its owner that might change my recommendation. FYI - if the tree is still partially in place I would strongly recommend photographing it, videotaping it or having it examined by an arborist to determine why it fell. Feel free to contact me with questions.
Wrongful Termination Lawyer
You should contact an attorney if you have sustained personal injuries. You need to remember that your insurance company is a business whose goal is to make money on premiums and pay out in claims as little money as possible. Your interests are protected by your legal counsel. Your question regarding the property owner's liability is a good one which you can discuss with your attorney. Generally in Ohio for a property owner to be responsible for a tree that damages another's property you must be able to show that they had "notice" or a reason to know that their tree would fall. For example if there is tangible evidence that the tree was diseased and the property owner knew of the condition of the tree you may have possible claim. Do not wait after you have been involved in an accident, contact an attorney.