If one has a tree in their property/yard, (or similarly a tree within a jointly owned courtyard) and it falls into a public area [due to heavy winds] and damages...

Is the owner of the tree liable in any way?

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    And does it make a sound? – Seth J Nov 2 '12 at 14:18
  • See BK 6:1: If a man brings sheep into a corral and locks the door in front of them properly, but the sheep escape and do damage, patur. If so with sheep, likely so with a tree (IMO). – Charles Koppelman Nov 2 '12 at 17:11
  • @CharlesKoppelman So you're saying that to be patur one would have had to have a net in place under the tree to try and catch falling branches? – Double AA Nov 2 '12 at 17:22
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    @DoubleAA No. Basic due diligence seems to be the key. Locking in sheep is the common way of keeping them from doing damage. The common way of keeping a tree from doing damage is basic maintenance (stake it if it's precarious, trim dangerous branches, don't uproot it). I don't know what halakha says, but this would be a good place to start. (hence this is a comment, not an answer) – Charles Koppelman Nov 2 '12 at 17:48

Mishneh Torah Hilkhot Nizqei Mamon 13:18[19] (and Shulchan Arukh Choshen Mishpat 416) says (in Eliyahu Touger's translation):

When a wall or a tree falls into the public domain and causes damage, the owner is not required to compensate [for the damages]. [This applies] even when he declared [the tree or the wall] ownerless. [The rationale is that these entities] do not resemble a cistern, for at the outset, [it is not likely] that they will cause damage.

  • That halacha continues: "If they were not sturdy, the court sets a time for the person by which he must cut down the tree and tear down the wall. How much time is granted him? Thirty days. If the tree or the wall falls within this time and causes damage, he is not liable. [If it falls] afterwards, he is liable, because he delayed [beyond the limits set]." – Fred Nov 24 '13 at 19:13
  • This entire sugya is based off of the Gemara, BK 3a. – DonielF Jun 8 '16 at 1:59

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