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Shapiro & Appleton

NC Postal Worker Crushed by Fallen Tree

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An incident in which a North Carolina mail carrier lost her life that might strike some as a bizarre accident may actually have been a completely predictable and avoidable tragedy. The deadly situation unfolded during an afternoon thunderstorm in the lincoln County town of Denver, NC, on June 20, 2015, when a tree fell and crushed the truck the USPS worker was using to make her rounds on Norman Court.

 

 

Trees often come down during periods of heavy rain and high winds, and their trunks and branches regularly injure and kill people in buildings and vehicles. Recognizing these risks, most homeowner and property owner insurance policies cover storm damage and resulting injuries and deaths. Those clauses can be invoked by anyone hurt or killed by a falling tree or branch, especially if the policyholder failed to take proper precautions to keep diseased or dead plants cut back and removed.

A question sure to arise regarding this fatal tree fall north of Charlotte is exactly where the tree was located. Having fallen into the roadway, it may have grown within the county- or city-owned right of way. That would make monitoring the tree's health and stability, as well as acting to address any danger to drivers, a government responsibility. Trees are tall, though, so it is entirely possible that the one that crushed the mail carrier to death grew on the private side of the property line.

The family of the deceased victim has great interest in how this question of what lawyers and lawmakers call premises liability gets answered. Filing a claim against a homeowner's insurance policy can be much more straightforward than attempting to receive compensation from a government agency. That said, the insurance company for the homeowner can be expected to contest tree location and to allege unsafe actions by the victim. An experienced Carolina wrongful death attorney can help the victim's family ensure questions regarding liability get answered conclusively and that either the homeowner's insurer or the government makes adequate compensation. 

EJL

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