Multiple alleged incidents involving falling trees have led to dozens of personal injury and property claims against the city of San Diego.
NBC7 San Diego reports that in 2013 alone, there have been 29 claims filed against the city, citing damage caused by trees. The city is responsible for maintaining around 200,000 trees. Plaintiffs in the lawsuits claim fallen trees and/or dropped branches have caused severe consequences for property, vehicles and people.
Recently, a San Diego man won a lawsuit against the city of San Diego for an incident that occurred in January 2010. According to NBC7, Michael Burke sued the City of San Diego after a Queen Palm tree located on Lark Street fell on his legs, paralyzing him for life. Burke has undergone 14 surgeries since the accident and will likely require some degree of amputation due to the severity of the injury, according to the suit.
The lawsuit charged negligence in caring for the trees, claiming that budget cuts caused the city to “walk away from its responsibility.” A jury awarded Burke $7.6 million in damages.
In an earlier interview with NBC7, Burke stated his reason for filing the lawsuit was to get the city to bring back trimming and inspecting palm trees. “I’m concerned for my family, for my wife, for my special-needs son, but I’m also concerned for others,” he said. “The danger still exists for people in the community of Mission Hills.”
Another recent development saw the City of San Diego deny a claim filed in response to an incident in July 2013, where a huge tree limb crashed down onto a woman in Mission Bay Park.
According to CBS7, Lauren Toepee (31) was walking near the De Anza Cove boat launch with her husband when a large section of a tree snapped suddenly and fell on her. Bystanders attempted to help, but the limb was too heavy for them to move. Toephee was hospitalized with severe injuries, including a broken leg, spinal injuries and five fractured face bones. She also developed a staph infection while in the hospital.
After the city’s Risk Management Department denied the claim, an attorney for Toepee announced she would pursue litigation, reports CBS7.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a fallen tree or another hazard on city property, contact San Diego personal injury attorney Melinda J. Helbock for help. Ms. Helbock has successfully represented clients in many cases of personal injury, helping them receive the compensation they deserve.
NOTE: Ms. Helbock is not representing any of the plaintiffs mentioned in this news article.