Dear Urban Diplomat: Am I responsible for damage caused by my neighbour’s tree?
A friend was recently over for dinner and stayed the night to avoid driving home in a bad storm. By the morning, a branch had broken off my neighbour’s tree and cracked my friend’s windshield. The damage is less than the insurance deductible, but it’s still expensive—about $200. She asked me to cover it, since she was parked in my driveway, and I told her she was bonkers: how can I be financially (or in any way) responsible for an act of God? Should I ask my neighbour to pay up, or tell my friend she’s out of luck?
—Tree Strikes and You’re Out, Mimico
Assuming the offending branch came from a healthy specimen and not a rotting tree, neither you nor your neighbour is to blame. Nobody is. Sometimes bad weather happens to good people. Politely stand your ground; if your friend persists, remind her of your magnanimity on the night of the sleepover when you could just as easily have sent her packing into the rain.
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