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Court Declines to Impose Duty on Landowner to Trim Trees Near Intersection

In a recent personal injury opinion, a state appellate court rejected a plaintiff’s claim against the defendant landowner that was based on the landowner’s failure to trim trees that the plaintiff claimed blocked the view of oncoming traffic. The case presents an interesting issue for Florida car accident plaintiffs because it illustrates the concept of landowner liability in a Florida personal injury case. Additionally, given the court’s unique concerns that may not apply in Florida, it is possible that the case may have been decided differently by a Florida court.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the case arose from a fatal accident that occurred at a rural intersection of two gravel roads. There were no road signs at the intersection. The plaintiff approached the intersection at the same time as another motorist, and the two vehicles collided.

Evidently, a post-accident investigation by law enforcement determined that neither of the drivers had applied the brakes or attempted to avoid the collision. Also, one law enforcement officer explained that it would have been impossible for the motorists to see the other approaching because the trees on the southeast corner of the intersection obscured the motorists’ vision.

The estate of one of the drivers involved in the collision filed a wrongful death case against the defendant, who owned the land at the southeast corner of the intersection. The plaintiff argued that the defendant’s failure to trim the trees resulted in the accident.

The Court’s Opinion

The court rejected the plaintiff’s argument and dismissed his claim against the defendant. The court explained that there was currently no law in place mandating a landowner trim the trees on their land that could potentially obscure the vision of passing motorists. The court acknowledged, however, that across the country the law was changing to impose such a duty when the landowner knew of a serious risk. However, the court noted that it would not adopt an impose a new duty unless it was consistent with public policy.

The court skipped over the question of whether it should adopt the new law, and held that the duty the plaintiff was asking it to impose was against public policy. The court explained that the jurisdiction where the case arose was rural, and many landowners in the area were farmers who routinely planted tall crops. The court noted that its decision to impose a duty on landowners to trip foliage would have a drastic impact in the state, and that the court preferred to leave the determination of who was responsible for trimming trees up tot eh states elected lawmakers. Thus, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s case, finding the defendant did not owe a duty to trim the trees on his property.

Have You Been Injured in a Florida Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Florida car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated South Florida injury lawyers at the law firm of Friedman Rodman & Frank have extensive experience representing injury victims in a wide range of claims, including Florida car accidents. To learn more, call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

Court Holds That Police Department May Be Liable for Officer’s Failure to Use Due Care While Responding to an Emergency, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published November 6, 2018.

Court Permits Premises Liability Case to Proceed After Applying the Res Ipsa Loquitor Doctrine, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published November 13, 2018.

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