Vegetation Loss in a Wildfire Claim

It’s an unfortunate circumstance that Californians have to constantly deal with the threat of wildfires day-in and day out. It’s becoming a more frequent occurrence as the effects of climate change have made the winds and vegetation more volatile over the years.

These wildfires can canvas hundreds of miles and will destroy everything with it. Whether that’s human lives, animals, personal property or vegetation — wildfires are an equal opportunity disaster in California. Very often is the case these wildfires are no mere accident — there is negligence involved when these fires occur.

Whether it’s lazy campers, nefarious power companies or incompetent contractors — there is normally someone responsible for causing these fires. This means the victims of personal property loss can file suit against those responsible for the fire damages to their personal property.

When you think of personal property, normally what comes to mind is housing, rental properties, businesses, and cars — maybe even pets. But trees, which can be found anywhere, probably don’t ring a bell. But trees and other vegetation on your property can be considered personal property just like a car or pet.

Filing a damage claim for your lost vegetation

An attorney experienced in litigating fire damage will be your best point of contact when trying to sort out what kinds of personal property you can collect damages on. The attorneys at The Sargent Firm Injury Lawyers are willing to fight for something as niche as your trees that were burnt up as the result of a California wildfire.


When filing a fire damage claim for lost vegetation, these are the things you need to keep in mind before you file:

Date of vegetation loss
Location of the vegetation loss
Number of trees, bushes or shrubbery lost
How long the vegetation has resided on your property
Did you plant the vegetation? Or was it already on your property at the time of purchase?
What kind of tree or bush was it? Did you put any personal care into it?

You should prepare a written statement to your property insurance company about the vegetation loss you’ve suffered immediately following the wildfire in your area. Any delayed time can give the insurance company a reason to deny your claim or not pay the full amount you’re owed.

If you’re a California property owner who has extensive land with many trees, it’s important to document these trees right away by their size, age, genus and location on your property. All of these are safety measures to take in case a wildfire wipes out your vegetation completely.


What are my trees worth on my property?

The state of California says if your vegetation was lost or damaged as the result of negligence by a third party, the negligent defendant is obligated to pay three times the value of that vegetation.

For example, a 36-inch cypress tree is worth about 290 dollars. Keep in mind 36 inches refers to the diameter of the tree, not the height. So a negligent defendant would be responsible for paying out $870 to a property owner.
There are many factors which go into determining the value of a tree, including  

Property Value: Having certain types of trees on your property can raise the value of your land. Real Estate agents in California have been known to use trees to increase “curb appeal” of neighborhood homes and research shows buyers are willing to pay more for houses with large trees on their property.  

Stormwater: One little-known benefit of trees is the amount of stormwater they can collect. Urban stormwater runoff has harmful effects on our environment. The runoff can drag chemicals, oils, and litter into rivers, oceans and reservoirs. Trees can intercept rain by holding it on their leaves, bark, and branches, absorbing it in their roots and reducing soil erosion by keeping water from hitting the ground.

Energy: If a tree is close enough to your house, it can actually save you money on power. Shading provided by trees reduces the amount of heat absorbed by your home and can also slow downwind approaching your home which in turn reduce the amount of heat lost in your home. Perhaps the most fascinating thing trees do to help with energy conservation is a process called evapotranspiration, which is a process where liquid water to converted to water vapor through solar energy. This process cools the air around the tree, thus lowering the temperature around your house.

Air quality: air pollution is a serious problem especially around Southern California, and trees can help reduce the amount of air pollution around your home. A tree can absorb ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide through their leaves as well as intercepting particles of matter like dust, ash, and smoke. As we mentioned earlier when a tree lowers the air temperature around your home it also reduces the amount of ozone produced in the air.

CO2: Cardon dioxide emissions by cars and other man-made machines are one of the biggest threats to our environment today. A flight coming in from new york to California can produce up to 1200 pounds of co2 in one trip. A tree can help reduce the amount of co2 in the air by locking up co2 in their roots, trunks, and stems which in turn reduces the temperature around the tree — thus saving energy costs for building around trees.

So, when approximated the value of your tree an appraiser experienced in determining the value of the tree will look at all these factors and determine how a particular type of tree can benefit you in these areas. Going back to our 36-inch cypress tree, its price would be broken down as follows:

  • Property Value: 179.69
  • Electricity savings: 37.99
  • Natural gas savings: 4.09
  • Stormwater saved: 27.67

  • co2 absorbed: 5.09
  • Air quality improved: 38.23

That makes for a total of 290 a year a cypress tree can be worth for a family living in California. For other 36-inch trees commonly found in California, here are some values you could see residing on your own personal property:

  • Sycamore: $88
  • White Adler: $61
  • Willow: $61
  • Cottonwood: $192
  • Boxelder: $635
  • Black Walnut: $192

Call The Sargent Firm Injury Lawyers Today

Now that you’re educated on the value a tree can bring to your property, the attorneys at The Sargent Firm Injury Lawyers hope you will take the steps to document and care for the trees on your property. Trees bring a lot of value to your property, so care for them as they are saving you money on your energy bills, making your house more curb-friendly and improving the air quality around your home.

If a tree or many trees have been damaged or lost in your home as the result of a wildfire, call attorney Ryan Sargent today. Your consultation is free with no obligation and you pay no fees unless we win your case. Call today!

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