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Tree Preservation: Different Things to Different People

Insurance, Legal
Tree preservation: Different things to different people. If you are a builder or a developer, tree preservation pretty much equates to not knocking the tree down during development. If you are a homeowner, then tree preservation takes on a more feng shui application. The utility of doing it well, doing what’s right, and doing it organically without chemicals is almost always in a homeowner’s mind. However, the common denominator of tree preservation, regardless of who you are, is rooted first in safety. Is the tree worth saving? Not all trees can or even should be saved. To that end comes a plethora of rules and standards that govern your conduct. If you are seeking the advice of an arborist or horticulturalist who does not first and foremost address the issue…
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Taking the Mystery Out of Tree and Landscape Claims

Insurance, Legal
Taking the mystery out of tree and landscape claims can be difficult! If you have had a tree or landscape claim come across your desk, you know the empty feeling associated with wondering just how the matter will be resolved. If only it were a car or a home, life would be so much easier. After all, those types of claims have a blueprint that can be followed to resolution. You always strive to be fair and honest with your determinations. But trees and landscapes? You simply don’t know where to begin. You either approve the claim based upon the provided information, ask for more information, give the claim to someone else, or place it at the bottom of your stack of claims hoping it will somehow disappear. But, it…
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A Misunderstood Common Law Privilege

Insurance, Legal
There is a misunderstood common law privilege that permits a landowner to cut encroaching tree and plant parts extending onto and into his property from a neighbor’s property. However, that action does not extend to conduct causing damage to the neighboring property. There is a privilege, but it is not absolute. The privilege is not positively accorded to a neighbor seeking relief from joining tree and plant problems. Sometimes the privilege works. Sometimes it is not applicable. One of the most difficult problems or questions in the urban marketplace for both arborists and government representatives is the issue of neighbor law. Of those difficult questions comes first and foremost, who owns the tree? Once ownership has been identified, the next pressing issue is the authority to prune or mitigate the…
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Insurance Think Tanks and Mr. Big: Reduction of Risk

Insurance
Somewhere on the penthouse floor of a gigantic insurance Think Tank sat Mr. Big. He had a grand idea. If the insurance risk of failing trees or tree parts could be eliminated, so would the wrongful death and personal injury cases his company and other insurance companies were paying out in claims. Trees falling onto homes and offices were in that mix as well. And don’t forget damages to automobiles, both moving and parked. There is, after all, no such thing as a perfectly safe tree, especially in our urban forests. Out went the edict: “Dear Insured, remove all the branches over your roof or we won’t insure you.” Problem solved. A promotion for Mr. Big to whatever floor is above the penthouse floor. In came the questions to me…
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Tree Codes: Death, Injuries and Unintended Consequences.

Insurance, Legal
Tree codes: death, injuries, and unintended consequences are a fact of life for arborists! I can recall to this day precisely where I was and what I was doing when I first heard the news. Unbelievable as it was. Stunned. Intellectually frozen in my thinking. The government was going to require that a permit be obtained to cut down my own tree. On my own property. And I had to pay for a replacement whether I planted another tree or not. My own property. My own tree. The tree I owned. The tree I may have planted. The tree that may have been dangerous. I needed permission to remove it. And I needed to get out my checkbook to boot. True, developers had been clear-cutting land for years. Thousands of…
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The Bill of Rights: Valuation vs Land Use

Insurance, Legal
The Bill of Rights: Valuation vs Land Use Few of us have read the U.S. Bill of Rights, which is quite understandable. However, the last 12 words of Article 5 have shaped our nation and introduced a niche legal area of the law known as condemnation or eminent domain. “… Nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” We have forgotten that our ancestors were routinely forced out of their homes and businesses by their landlord and our now good friend, England. Routinely. Imagine a knock on your business door.  There are armed soldiers telling you to gather your belongings and get out as they are going to take your property for their use and comfort. No compensation. No appeal. No warning. Get out. Now. The…
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Tree Failures and Wrongful Death Claims

Insurance, Legal
Tree failures and wrongful death and landscape claims typically fall into the category of valuations. A tree or landscape was damaged, and somebody wants to be paid. And there is much to be considered regarding the valuation of trees and landscapes, which goes to a different level if the tree failure caused personal injury or death. Then the ground rules change. Obviously, much more is now at stake for both the insured, the claimant, and of course the person or entity responsible for paying alleged damages. When wrongful death or personal injury claims caused by tree failures come to your desk, there are many considerations to be contemplated, one of which is “Who owns the tree?” Other considerations evolve about whether the tree failure could have been prevented; was the…
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Who’s Cheating Their Insurance Company?

Insurance
Who's cheating their insurance company? There are abuses on both sides of the insurance cheating issue. There are high-profile attorneys with great expertise in detecting fraud. These attorneys regularly post on LinkedIn verdicts that they received from a jury, verdicts that far exceeded the original claim in many instances. There are insurance companies whose attorneys also win big cases against people who fraudulently file an insurance claim. There are indeed legitimate claims to be made on both sides of the cheating issue. But it’s not the big guys, the master planners whose blueprint is to deceive, that cause the egregious overpayment of claims. Nope. It’s the little guy. You know, like your neighbor. They have all sorts of justifications for cheating. It’s not really cheating after all. It’s a partial…
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Is Customer Service Dead? Not in This Small Town!

Stories of Life
Is customer service dead? Not in Old Town, Florida! Population of about 6,000. Located about two hours south of the Georgia/Florida state line. As you approach the only intersection in this small town, turn right and proceed 11 miles for the best hamburger in town. Turn left and approximately two football fields down the road you will find a hardware store on the right. On a sleepy Saturday morning, I entered the hardware store on a quest from my bride:  Return home with eight solar-powered nightlights needed for a riverfront home we just purchased. I was greeted by Ned, and I explained I needed eight replacement lights. Although he didn’t carry them, he said he could get them for me. After all, this was not a big box store, but…
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Expert Witnesses and Attorneys: Anger Isn’t Good

Legal
How to Make an Attorney Angry: The Seven Deadly Sins I have noted over the years and in close to 1000 litigated assignments I have been named an expert witness on, all attorneys have melting points – negative or angry reactions to actions of their expert witnesses. As is almost always the case in life, it’s the little things in business (and life) that count. So here are my Top 7 negative reactions attorneys have for expert witness conduct. 1. Nickel-and-diming: While not of the greatest importance, nickel-and-diming an attorney to death never fails to light a fire on their already short fuse. I know experts who keep time clocks on their invoices. They have their tasks reduced to the minute; sometimes, to the second. Seriously. Yes, I know attorneys…
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