If A Tree Falls On Your House...

When a 90 year old tree fell on Paul and Machelle Emmerich's house early yesterday morning, they asked the developer next door to pay for the clean-up. After all, the tree was on the company's property, and that's how things work in California where they used to live.

"We received a call from their company's attorney that clearly stated that it was not their financial responsibility, and they would take no further action," says Machelle.

In Texas, if a tree falls on your house you are responsible for the damage regardless of who owns the tree.

Kit Parkhill with Farmers Insurance says, "A lot of people are surprised.  They didn't own the tree and they think, 'Why should I be responsible for somebody elses tree falling over on me?"

The only time the tree owner is responsible is if the tree falls because it is diseased or dead.  Now that the Emmerich's know they'll be the ones to pay, they're checking out the condition of all their neighbors' trees.

"I really think it causes ill will with the neighbors, because I've got to go tell my neighbor that they need to remove their tree that they think is beautiful, because it's in their back yard, yet it presents a financial and a harmful situation for us," says Machelle.

They say offending a neighbor is a small price to pay to protect their house.

It's a good idea to check the trees in your front yard to see if they're in danger of falling over.

Signs to look for include deadwood, deep cracks in the trunk, weak branch unions, big pieces of missing bark, root problems that may cause leaf discoloration, and poor tree architecture like if it is leaning or off balance.

Lindsay Wilcox/Reporting: lwilcox@kltv.com