The neighborhood streets are straight out of the American Dream. Lushly landscaped front yards and shaded streets lined with soaring trees provide a protective green canopy for neighborhood kids to play and ride their bikes and for parents to take a stroll.
It all sounds idyllic, but the residents of New Dorp in Staten Island say they live in fear every day that they or their children will be killed by a falling tree branch from the hundreds of aging trees that they claim are poorly maintained by the city.
The residents are terrified that in the event of even a mild storm, one of the thousands of untrimmed tree branches overhead will come crashing down on a house, a car, or worse, a neighbor or a child. The residents say there are also tangles of electrical wires running through the branches that are a dangerous fire hazard if a branch comes down.
George Kuzar, a New Dorp resident for 45 years, said he can clearly see overhanging branches that are cracked and ready to fall. In early July, he called the city emergency number to have the branches taken down. A city employee came by and left him a note saying that it was a “top priority” situation, but Kuzar said that no one has come by since.
“We don’t get any results and the fear is someone could just be walking and a branch could fall and hit someone. We never let the kids play in the front because of it,” Kuzar said.
Inadequate staff to care for 2.5 million trees
New York City is grossly understaffed when it comes to pruning and maintaining dangerous tree branches or cutting down hazardous dead trees. The Parks Department admits that the trees lining the streets in the five boroughs are pruned on average only once every 15 years, which is double the time frame of previous years when pruning took place every seven years. The city tree maintenance budget in 2007 was $4.7 million. By 2012, that budget had been slashed to $1.45 million.
The fact remains that the owner of a tree, whether it be the city or a home owner, has a responsibility to routinely prune and care for the tree. This includes regular inspections for dying limbs, insect infestation, fungus, or other types of disease. If the tree is found to be diseased or dying, the tree must be taken down and removed. If the city or the owner fails to act and an injury or death to a passerby results, the victim may be entitled to legal compensation.
When legal action is warrranted
Attorneys for the city will often employ a “scorched earth” or ”take no prisoners” type of defense to prevent having to pay a settlement, but an experienced personal injury lawyer knows his or her client’s rights and is rarely cowed by such tactics.
The New York personal injury lawyers at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye have many years of know-how investigating fallen tree branch accidents in New York City and Long Island. If you or a family member have suffered a personal injury or death from a fallen tree branch, we will get to the bottom of which party or parties may be responsible so that you can be rightfully compensated for your loss, be it the city, a property owner, or even the Parks Department.
Keep in mind that you have 90 days to file a notice of claim in any fallen tree lawsuit involving New York City. A personal injury lawsuit must be filed within 1 year and 90 days. The statute of limitations for wrongful death cases is two years from the date of death. To learn more about your legal options, call 1-800-469-7429.