We often hear about cars damaged by accidents caused by bad weather. Especially in recent years, these events are occurring more and more frequently, due to the climate changes that cause extreme weather phenomena many times. Winds over 100 km / h, heavy rains, floods and lightning storms, which hit large trees, which sometimes fall on parked cars.
In these cases it is natural to wonder who will have to pay for the damage suffered by the machines. Let’s assume the fall of a tree, or a branch, which will damage, if not completely destroy the parked vehicle. Based on the provisions of article 2051 of our Civil Code , the person responsible should be the owner of the area on which the fallen tree is located, unless the latter has the opportunity to prove the fortuitous event.
Therefore, depending on whether the tree in question is on an urban or suburban road, the responsibility would fall on the Municipality, in the first case, and on the region, province or Anas in the second hypothesis. This is because, all trees should be subjected to periodic maintenance and pruning, in order to keep them healthy, so as to prevent their breakage.
However, in the event of extreme weather events, such as a tornado, a flood, or an exceptional snowfall, for example, those responsible could oppose compensation for the damage, showing that it was a fortuitous event, i.e. due to force majeure. In order to proceed with the request for compensation, the injured party must send a formal notice to the Municipality, or other reference body, by registered mail with return receipt, containing the description and data of the vehicle and the owner, place and date of the event, and extent of the damage, accompanied by photo and estimate, or repair invoice.
In the event that the tree is located in a private area, the damage must instead be attributed to the owner of the land.
However, in the latter case, the injured party, after having identified the owner of the fund, and having sent the formal notice, in the same way as in the previous case, will be able to avail himself of the principle of joint and several liability between the owner of the plot and the local administration, as required by the Court of Cassation, with the judgment n.20448 / 2014.
This is because public authorities, in order to guarantee the safety of the public road, are required to constantly check that the trees inside the private properties, adjacent to the road, are regularly subjected to maintenance and pruning, so as not to represent any sources of danger.
Filing a lawsuit with the Municipality or private individuals, in any case, would entail costs, and long waiting times for an outcome that is in any case uncertain. Motorists who want to protect themselves from potential damage, avoiding all this, could eventually decide to add to their car insurance, the weather event guarantee, paying only a few tens of euros more per year.