Neighbors involved in tree disputes usually fight over views, dropped leaves, and loose branches, but sometimes the problem goes a lot deeper. Trees, like other plants, release pollen that can cause allergies. The allergies can be severe enough to curtail someone's life during that tree's pollen season. If your neighbor has just planted a tree that you're allergic to, you could potentially have a personal injury claim -- but you have to take a look at the situation carefully.
What Did the Neighbor Do?
Your first course of action when you find out your neighbor has planted a tree that you're allergic to is to talk to them about removing the tree. Sometimes the neighbor does that. Other times the neighbor will do it if you pay for the removal. The point is, if your neighbor plants a tree that you're allergic to, you ask the neighbor to remove it, and the neighbor complies immediately, you likely don't have a personal injury claim. But if the neighbor resists and leaves the tree in place even though you're now suffering, you should look at additional factors and possibly talk to a lawyer.
Rarity of Allergy
Another consideration is how rare the allergy is and whether your neighbor could have reasonably expected that someone in the neighborhood would have an allergy. For example, if you live in central Texas and your neighbor plants mountain cedar, which is a highly allergenic tree responsible for a severe allergy nicknamed cedar fever (which Texas Monthly once called a "scourge" and a "plague"), that's not a tree that someone would reasonably want to plant in the region. Cedar fever is common; any nursery or landscaping company in the region will know about it and be able to warn new residents away from planting the trees. Again, you'd have to talk to a lawyer about possible paths of recourse, but a personal injury suit could be a possibility.
Rarity of Tree
At the same time, if there are a lot of trees in the region that set off your allergy, you might have trouble filing a personal injury lawsuit just because removing the one tree in your neighbor's yard isn't going to do much to help you. Take that mountain cedar example; mountain cedars are very common in central Texas. While your neighbor could rightly be called clueless and inconsiderate for planting one, removing that one likely wouldn't help your allergies. You could force the neighbor to remove the tree, but a personal injury lawsuit might be tougher to follow up on.
What Exactly Is the Problem
Another issue is what the allergy is. Pollen can travel. But if the problem is that you get hives after touching the bark of the tree -- for example, the sap of the mango tree can cause a rash, so if you touch bark where the sap has leaked out, you could have a reaction -- and the tree is far away from your property line in a fenced yard, you might not have a claim. You don't have to venture onto your neighbor's property, after all.
For a personal injury suit to be successful, you have to show that the neighbor could have prevented the problem, that you couldn't avoid it in a reasonable manner, and that the neighbor's tree really did cause your injury (or allergy, in this case), among other things. Because this can be so tricky, you need to talk to a personal injury attorney to determine if you can proceed with filing a suit. Contact a firm like Schey Piller Alspaugh & Wong Pc to learn more.
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