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Personal Injury

State may be liable in Northern California falling tree accident

By May 24, 2021No Comments

With over 150 years of combined experience, the personal injury attorneys at Reiner, Slaughter, Mainzer & Frankel are  often sought out as experts on the topic of injury liability in the Northern California area. Recently, Ben Mainzer was interviewed by NBC 5 about a tragic falling tree accident which claimed a life in March.

Jake and Jessica Woodruff were killed on March 25 while they were driving on Highway 199 in Del Norte County. A falling redwood tree crushed their car, killing them instantly.

Their deaths sent shockwaves throughout the community and left many wondering who might be responsible. That’s just what NBC 5 interviewed RSMF attorney Ben Mainzer about.

Liability for the falling tree accident

As Mainzer explained to NBC 5, he worked on a similar case in 2012 when a man in Humboldt County was killed by a falling redwood on State Route 36.

Mainzer found that the California Department of Transportation, Caltrans, had failed to properly maintain trees on the highway, and represented  the deceased man’s family sin a lawsuit against  the State of California. After hard-fought litigation, the case settled for $2 million.

While Mainzer offered no ultimate conclusions, based on certain similarities between the 2012 incident and the recent tree failure, Mainzer told NBC 5 he was suspicious the State may also be liable for the Woodruffs’ deaths..

What to do if you’re injured by a falling tree in California

If you are injured by a falling tree or tree limb, it’s understandable to be unsure about how to proceed.

Here are four things you should do immediately after an injury caused by a falling tree:

  • Get medical help: If needed,  seek medical attention immediately.  Because of their weight, common injuries caused by falling trees or tree limbs include:
      • Concussions and traumatic brain injuries
      • Spinal cord injuries
      • Internal injuries
      • Broken limbs
      • Wrongful death
  • Preserve the tree or tree limb: The most important piece of evidence in a tree failure case is the tree itself.  An experienced arborist can often determine the cause of a tree failure by examining the tree, stump, and surrounding area.  If the tree that fell is destroyed before it is inspected, it can become extremely difficult or even impossible to determine why the tree fell. 
  • Take pictures of the scene: Taking pictures and videos of the scene can provide you with important evidence
  • Hire an attorney: The most important step to need to take is to contact an personal injury attorney who has experience litigating tree failure cases. Tree failure cases can be highly technical, complex cases.  Additionally, because  there can be multiple parties responsible for the maintenance of trees, it can be challenging to determine who may be  at fault, and how to go about seeking compensation. An attorney with experience handling tree failure cases will be able to make sure the case is fully and properly investigated and you are receiving the compensation you deserve.

Contact a California personal injury attorney today

Ben Mainzer and his partners at Rainer, Slaughter, Mainzer, & Frankel are uniquely qualified to represent people injured and the families of those killed by falling trees.

Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation

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