We are not just tree specialists….

Share This Post

Since I started Tree Law I have been focused on a niche of claims involving trees. What I forget to tell people is that I am able to deal with other civil property disputes involving damage to property, insurance cover and claims to recover damages. In particular:
Flood damage
Another peril likely to be made worse by climate change (although the science of modelling a definite causative link is limited). Properties can be flooded for lots of reasons, e.g.,

  • a nearby-river bursting its bank when in flood,

  • a blocked culvert meaning water which would ordinarily flow down a culverted pipe, escapes and floods,

  • breach of the capacity of a reservoir

  • sea wall defence failure

  • water running off a highway

  • water running off a neighbour’s land

  • water backing-up from a sewerage system which has exceeded its maximum capacity

  • failed land drainage scheme

  • raised water table causing flood water to enter from underneath a property

Flood claims are extremely varied and can be incredibly difficult to bring. Evidence can often rely on modelling an area which relies on past events to be able to calibrate a model in order for it to be effective.

Individuals can be left with a property at risk of regular flooding but with no ability to be able to claim against their insurance company repeatedly, thereby leaving home owners at a risk of being uninsured for certain events.

Given that flood risk has increased significantly over the past decade, Flood Re has been launched after property insurers feared that it would not longer be economically viable to provide flood cover on domestic home insurance policies. Flood Re is a reinsurance scheme allowing insurers to reinsure flood risk thereby limiting/spreading their financial risk whilst still being able to provide the customer with flood cover.

I successfully brought a flooding case against Newport City Council in the Cardiff Technology & Construction Court in 2008 following flooding to Newport in 2003 when water escaped from the Gwastad Mawr reservoir as a result of the mis management of a sluice gate.
Fire damage
Domestic fire claims have gained increased attention since the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017. Cladding fires do not tend to affect houses. Fires in domestic houses tend to be as a result of a failure of an appliance, e.g., a fire originating from a tumble dryer or washing machine. Increasingly we are seeing fires which occur as a result of a failure in a charging system, whether that’s to the likes of a mobile phone or an e-scooter.

One of the most important parts of a fire claim is the fire report and forensic report which, together, can determine what the cause of a fire was.

I have been involved in numerous fire claims. One involved the failure of a charger to a mobility scooter which caught fire and led to a drum of oil nearby to catch fire, flowing as a river of fire into a neighbouring property causing significant damage. That was a claim dealt with on behalf of insurers and where a settlement was reached at a mediation.
Escape of water
Escape of water is the insurance peril which costs domestic insurers the most money per year. There is a lot of focus on minimising the risk of water escaping from domestic pipes due to how common this is and the cost this has to the industry.

These escape of water cases can be claims against negligent plumbers who might have failed to install a connection on a pipe correctly leading to a failure; it could be the incorrect plumbing of a new washing machine or the failure to drain-down a system when a house is unoccupied during a period of freezing temperatures.

What is clear from climate modelling is that escapes of water are on the increase with climate change. Why is that? well that is because ground movement caused by ground drying out in hot, dry summers, can cause underground pipes to fracture and water to escape. This is of concern to water authorities who work to limit the volume of water that escapes from their pipes and also modelling changing climate in the future to spot areas where there might be future problems, before they occur.
Impact damage
Impact damage is the claim where something strikes the property. Whilst that can be a falling tree, that can also be a car, van or lorry which veers off the road and into a property.
Escape of oil
Escape of oil cases are something largely related to the leak of oil from a domestic heating oil tank. This is more common in properties which are not connected for gas central heating and are due to become more something of the past as we transition towards ground source heat pumps as the economy decarbonises.

Escape of oil cases can be extremely difficult to remediate. Contaminated soil needs to removed from site to be cleaned. My love of all things trees have led me to learn about the power of fungi and apparently mushrooms are proven to be able to break down oil. Mushroom power!
Sink holes/solution features
Finally sink holes (or solution features) are another peril which often grab the headlines. Huge holes opening up and swallowing cars whole are frightening and are sure to get attention.

Sink holes can be common in certain areas and it can coincide with previous underground mining having been carried out.

These features often appear at an area where an under-ground pipe has been fractured with water found to be pumping out when the hole is inspected. This leads to the question of the chicken and the egg. Did the leaking water from a broken pipe cause the sink hole to appear as a result of the water having washed away ground, or did the sudden appearance of a large hole and the ground movement related to that, fracture the pipe. This will often be a sticking point on the evidence gathered when trying to determine if blame for a sink hole rests on a third party.

Not related to a sink hole, but a leaking water pipe. I have previously been involved in a claim involving a catastrophic landslip caused by leaking water which occurred on the top of a hill. This landslip damaged properties downhill of the affected properties. The Council were so concerned about the ongoing stability of the properties that a Buildings Act notice was served on the houses and they were removed by hand, fearing that they would collapse and also fall down the hill in the direction of the landslide. This was a claim that got very close to trial but a settlement was reached at a 3 day mediation.

So, as you can see from the above, we are branching out far wider than tree claims and have significant experience in claims involving all sorts of damage to domestic properties.

Get in touch for a chat if you:
  • Have a query about what perils might be covered by your insurance policy or you are concerned about how your insurer is dealing with a claim

  • You want to pursue a claim against a party liable for your property having been damage in one of the ways listed above

  • Your property is at risk of damage and you want to take steps with a third party to stop that damage from occuring

  • You are being accursed of having caused a claim and you want some advice on whether you can defend a claim against you.

Recents Posts

Share This Post

News Articles

The Sunday Times

Ive never thought of myself as an agony aunt in the traditional sense but, when I was asked by the Sunday Times to answer a

Can you do the Rubix Cube?

How many of your can complete a Rubix Cube? In a tree root subsidence claim there are so many competing interest which are often working

x  Powerful Protection for WordPress, from Shield Security
This Site Is Protected By
Shield Security