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VIC Car Damaged Due to Falling Tree Branch - Compensation from Council?

Discussion in 'Other/General Law Forum' started by DJB1962, 11 January 2016.

  1. DJB1962

    DJB1962 Member

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    My car was wiped out by a falling tree branch. My wife and I were lucky not to have been killed. The stretch of road, in my opinion, has been poorly maintained by council / shire employees. In some cases, the tree branches span the width of the dual carriageway on The Great Alpine Road near Myrtleford (Vic).

    Do I have any option to look for compensation from VicRoads or Shire authorities under Australian Law? (I lost close to $5000 with insurance excess, increased insurance premiums and gap between purchase prices and insured value ( AAMI would not accommodate the full purchase price).


    Thanks
     
  2. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    While I sympathise with your loss, I don't agree with the premise that we should hold someone else responsible for what could be seen as 'an act of god'. Everyone should have adequate insurance to cover their loss (less deductible).

    The other thing to consider is if we want all councils/Gov't to strip roadsides of all trees because one day they may drop a branch onto a car. And you have to look at how far back they would be forced to cut down trees. Would they have to cut down all trees within 200 meters of the road on the off chance a branch flies off in high winds? And provide non-slip paths up mountains in case someone slips while sightseeing in wet weather. Should we cut down all forests and plow in all native grasslands because they are a fire hazard?

    Sorry, I don't agree we should head down the US path of accidents always being someone else's fault. Sometimes accidents are just that, accidents.
     
  3. Sophea

    Sophea Well-Known Member

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    Hi DJB1962,

    Generally councils do not have a proactive duty to go around inspecting every tree on public land for safety. Rather if residents who are concerned about the safety of trees on public land report their concerns to the council, the council will arrange for an arborist to inspect the tree and carry out any maintenance work that is needed to make the tree safe. If they are given warning of unsafe trees and fail to act, then in this case the council would face legal action if someone is hurt or dies etc, however not necessarily in circumstances where they had no notice that the trees were posing a hazard.
     
  4. DJB1962

    DJB1962 Member

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    To be consistent, do you believe back burning to avoid catastrophe is unnecessary? If a wildfire was to occur in overgrown tinder dry crown land causing 100s to lose homes and/or life, it would be just one of those things that God smites down on us occasionally?
     
  5. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    Frustrating to see people move into a treed area because it is 'nice', then cut down all their trees because they don't want trees too close to their house.

    If people choose to live in fire prone areas, which are generally well known, they should also accept the risk that goes with it.
     
  6. DJB1962

    DJB1962 Member

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    Yep but we're not just talking rural isolation. We get damaging grass fire events in outer suburbs also. e.g. in Epping only last year.

    The point being in my case there shouldn't be a tree branch canopy across a high volume road. Sooner or later those tree limbs are going to succumb to gravity. You might have a different tune to sing if you or yours were in a similar incident.
     
  7. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    You say no canopy across the road, someone else will say where trees can fall across road, others may say where branches can fly onto a road. Where does it stop?

    Ummm, no. I stand by my principles and see no reason why an 'act of god' should be seen for anything but what it is. I could have left home 5 mins earlier and been hit by a car crossing the road. Who knows what sequence of events may have prevented us getting to where we are today. Luck of the draw I say.

    I do not see the value to society where we become a nanny state and nor do I want to live in a country with millions of rules saying do nothing and be careful in case someone sues you. Think of the consequences of what you propose - remove all tree canopies over all roads. How much is this going to cost? Who pays for it? How much needs to spent keeping trees away from roads, what happens to tree lined streets in Melbourne? What about trees in front yards that can fall across roads?
     
  8. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    In a legal sense, what you'd be looking at here is council negligence, which requires you to prove the council first owed you a duty of care. I think you'll struggle to establish this element in the first place, let alone the next element of there being a breach of that duty. The court simply isn't likely to agree that it's reasonable foreseeable that a tree branch will strike a car during a storm, or that there was any reasonable course of action available to the council to reduce or eliminate that risk.
     
  9. Emily Rambal

    Emily Rambal Active Member

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    File the claim with your insurance company. Ask your insurance agent or the claim representative what you can do to speed up the claims process. Most companies allow you to take photos of the tree on the vehicle so work can begin to remove the tree and possibly have the vehicle towed.
     

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