Hedging your bet
We’ve all seen those plants and tree limbs which extend beyond someone’s property. What if that foliage obstructs traffic signs or blocks a driver’s view of an intersection? Is the property owner then liable for any resulting accident? Yes, according to Florida law. Property owners cannot allow their trees or hedges to grow into the public right-of-way. The law expects that owners can and should monitor their properties to determine if overgrown foliage poses a risk or danger to third parties. In fact, Florida’s Supreme Court expanded its explanation of landowner liability in this regard, dictating that owners will be held accountable if they permit conditions on their land to extend into public roadways and create a foreseeable hazard to traffic.
As for overhanging branches between two adjacent properties, the law is equally clear. Neighbors are allowed to prune those portions growing into their own property. Crossing over one’s property line to trim foliage or cut back an offending plant, however, is not advised. Not only could one be found guilty of criminal trespass, but too severe a pruning job could bring a lawsuit for damages.