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20 ft magnolia worth $1000?

 
John Master
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To make a long story short, a neighbors tree service ruined our 30-40 year old 20+ft tall magnolia tree by dropping another tree on it. We both agreed it is pretty much irreplaceable as no nursery is going to have a 30-40 yr old tree that large so you almost would have to find one from a private party.

Is it outrageous to ask 1000 damages for something that is essentially irreplaceable? I thought it was on the reasonable side, the tree service owner of course disagreed.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I suggest you contact a few suppliers of mature trees to ask what it would cost to replace your damaged tree. I think you will find you'd be extremely lucky to get a quote as low as $1000.

My folks got a 8-10 foot oak tree installed a few years ago and I think it cost them $1500.
 
John Master
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Yes, I figured I was being incredibly reasonable...not trying to bankrupt the guy but when you have a business getting paid to take trees down you take on the responsibility for where they fall.
 
John Wolfram
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Did this just happen? Trees can take a heck of a lot of abuse in the winter and bounce back with a vengeance in the spring. If several major limbs got stripped/knocked off that 40-year old root system is going to be driving growth in the spring pretty hard. In other words, I'd probably wait until the summer before declaring the tree "ruined."
 
John Master
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It is ruined from what it was, it's still a live tree, just half the size of what it was. had two big trunks and they took down one whole side of it basically.
 
John Wolfram
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John Master wrote:It is ruined from what it was, it's still a live tree, just half the size of what it was. had two big trunks and they took down one whole side of it basically.

I see. I would view this more from the perspective of appropriate compensation for loss of property value as a result of there being a misshapen tree for a few years while the tree regrows. In other words, damage to a 40 year old magnolia on the edge of a rural property would be less costly than damage to a 40 year old magnolia on the front lawn of a multi-million dollar mansion.
 
patrick canidae
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http://fortwaynetrees.com/pricing/

A friend of mine had a 6" diameter flowering tree from these folks spaded in. I believe it was a basswood, but they charge the same fee for most of their deciduous shade and ornamental trees based on diameter at breast height. It was around the twenty foot mark in height. Cost a little over a grand because he was a little beyond their normal delivery radius.
 
Dan Boone
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The advice to get a quote from suppliers of mature trees is spot on. That's the sort of evidence that would be paid attention to in small claims court, and this is the sort of claim that small claims courts are for. You might not be willing to go there, but the tree service can't know whether you will or not, which gives you leverage. Even if nobody can sell you a tree like the one you lost, find out what the biggest tree they can sell you would cost (installed); it will be more than you're asking.

Also giving you leverage: in many US states, there are specific statutory damages that apply to destruction of landscape trees. Usually the damages are double, triple, or sometimes even five times the fair market value of the tree in question. That's precisely because it can be difficult or impossible to replace a mature living tree, and thus it's acknowledged by the law in many places that "fair market value" isn't truly fair compensation, even if you could fix a correct number.

Usually in states that have one of these special damages laws, it's pretty easy to Google up the info about it. Hope this helps!
 
John Polk
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Yes, I figured I was being incredibly reasonable...not trying to bankrupt the guy but when you have a business getting paid to take trees down you take on the responsibility for where they fall.


And if he is a professional company, he should have insurance which would cover the costs. Personally, I believe that you asked way to little. He should be liable for replacing the closest thing available at the minimum.
 
John Polk
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As a side note, a California real estate association once claimed that a mature street tree added $6,000 value to the property on average. What does an eyesore, damaged tree do to the value?

"Chucky Chainsaw" owes you some money.

 
Dale Hodgins
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Even if the contractor were to disappear, liability should fall to your neighbor or their insurance company. I wouldn't mention an amount to the insurance company. They may offer more than you were willing to accept.

After my friend's very ugly office flooded, the insurance company gave a budget for new carpet. I did this instead. Now it's a show piece. http://www.permies.com/mobile/t/44163/projects/Dale-concrete-floor-resurfacing-job?foo=a
 
John Master
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Definitely know I could get estimates for way more, I have a friend in the tree business who could write me an estimate, wishing the guy would just make it right, he said his deductible was 1000...no sense in dealing with insurance if the guy would just own up, I think I will give him till tomorrow to come back over and get serious. Should I be contacting my homeowners ins instead? This sounds like the sort of thing they would be all about going after, I don't want pissed off neighbors so I want to go about this the best way. I still have to live here
 
John Polk
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Should I be contacting my homeowners ins instead?

Yes. They will come out to investigate. They will, most likely determine that they are not liable.
But once the ball is in their court, they will go after the liable party.
They want you to be "whole", but not at their expense.


 
Roses are red. Violets are blue. Some poems rhyme. But this is a tiny ad:

The permaculture playing cards make great stocking stuffers:
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