Alabama sees its fair share of tornadoes, violent thunderstorms, and hurricanes each year.  Weather like that may have you keeping an eye on your neighbor’s trees, concerned that one of the branches could fall and damage your property.  So, what are your rights?

There’s a tree on my neighbor’s property with limbs that extend onto my yard.  Can  I cut the branches down?

Yes, although it would be a good idea to speak to your neighbor before you get out the chainsaw.

In general, you have the right to control what is on your property, including tree limbs and even roots. So, you can cut down tree limbs up to – but not past! – the point of your property line.

However, you should consider speaking with your neighbor before taking action.  You may be able to come to some agreement as to how the tree should be dealt with and avoid any headache or heartache for either of you.

Note that if your tree maintenance involves digging or excavation  you will need to call 811 at least two working days before you start your project.  

Can I cut down a tree that is on the boundary line of my property?

If a tree trunk is on a boundary line then each neighbor owns the tree and all owners of the tree must give consent to any action taken with respect to the tree. So, if a tree is on a property line that you share with your neighbor, you must get his or her consent before you cut it down.

On the other hand, if the tree trunk is entirely on your property then you can probably cut it down without consulting your neighbor.  We say “probably” because there is a chance that excavating the tree could cause damage to your neighbor’s property.  You will want to carefully consider the consequences of removing a tree and its roots.  Will removal of the rootball cause erosion that could flood your neighbor’s land or lessen support for a wall or structure on your neighbor’s property?

Am I responsible if my tree falls on my neighbor’s property?

MAYBE. If your tree falls and causes damage to your neighbor’s property then you could be held liable, even if the tree fell due largely to an act of nature such as a tornado.

But don’t worry!  You can avoid liability by acting responsibly. 

Check out these examples:

Example #1: , Say you have a tree in your yard that is clearly dead.  It’s ugly, has rotten branches that are barely hanging onto the trunk, and your neighbor is constantly begging you to cut it down. One night during a rainstorm, a gust of wind knocks a branch off of the tree and through your neighbor’s roof, causing damage. Because you negligently failed to cut down the dead tree even though you knew it was in bad shape, you could potentially be held liable for the damage.

Example #2:   Imagine that you have a beautiful, healthy tree on your yard with branches that extend over your neighbor’s property.  The tree is in great shape, but nevertheless it is uprooted one day during an F5 tornado and falls onto your neighbor’s house.  In such a case you would not be held liable for any damage because there was nothing you could have done to prevent a catastrophic tornado from uprooting your healthy tree.

In other words, the answer to this question will depend entirely on the facts of the situation.  An experienced attorney can assess your particular situation.

If you have any questions regarding your property rights, please call Lewis, Lewis & Falkner at 205-553-5353 for a free consultation.

Are You Involved in a Lawsuit?  Here’s What You Need to Know About Social Media and How It Can Impact Your Case


No matter what type of legal matter you are involved in, your use of social media can cause irreparable harm to your case. Read on to learn how you can protect yourself and your case by using caution on social media.

What Is Social Media?

Social media includes any online forum where you create, share, or exchange information. The most obvious example is Facebook, but don’t forget about Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Youtube, Linkedin, and any other online network, forum, or community.

Regardless of your privacy settings, you should be cautious when using social media if you are involved in a legal proceeding. And that doesn’t just mean that you should be careful about what you post to your own page. You leave a digital footprint every time you interact with social media, whether by commenting on a friend’s post, “liking” a photo, following an account, or sending a direct message.

Why Does My Social Media Use Matter to My Lawsuit?

Anything you post (whether on your own page or as an interaction with another account) may be used as evidence in your case. This is true even if you think that you have selected the most restrictive privacy settings on your social media account. You do not have an “expectation of privacy” with regard to content you share on your social media account, even if that information is only shared with your limited “friends” list. Contrary to what some viral memes may tell you, you cannot change this fact by posting any particular language about “opting out” of Facebook’s terms.

What Social Media Pitfalls Should I Avoid While I’m Involved in a Legal Matter?

Here are some important social media do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when you are involved in a legal proceeding:

1. Don’t Post Anything That Could Be Used Against You Later

Before you post anything to your social media account, ask yourself how the post would make you look to an opposing attorney or to the judge or jury in your case. Can your post be taken out of context or misconstrued in any way? Does it undermine any of the claims or defenses you have made in your case? If you’re unsure, err on the side of caution by avoiding the post.

For example, if you are a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit, posting a photograph of yourself doing something outside of your physician-recommended restrictions could be used to show that your alleged injuries are not as serious as you have claimed. Similarly, if you post a stream of happy, smiling pictures of yourself you may undermine your claim of emotional distress. We all know that social media is a highlight reel of our lives and most people don’t post sad pictures of themselves even if that’s how they feel. However, it may be hard for a jury to reconcile a person’s peppy, emoticon-captioned social media posts with his or her legal claims of physical and mental pain.

Divorce and custody cases are other common situations where social media posts can become important. Does your social media history show you to be a responsible, caring parent, or does it paint a different picture? Could your innocent comments on a friend’s picture be interpreted as flirtatious and evidence of an alleged affair?

2. Do Not Talk Online About Your Case

It’s a good idea not to talk to anyone besides your attorney about your case, but it’s especially important not to talk about it online. Even if the messages you send are “private” or “direct” they could become evidence in your case. Temporary posts designed to disappear after a certain amount of time (such as messages sent on Snapchat) aren’t safe either. Remember that even temporary messages can be screenshot and saved by another person.

3. Don’t Delete Your Posts

You may think that you can un-ring the bell on your careless social media post by deleting it, but that’s not a good idea. Destroying evidence can be a serious matter when you’re involved in a lawsuit, resulting in possible sanctions (in other words, punishment).

4. Don’t Accept New Friend Requests from People You Don’t Know

Investigators and attorneys have been known to create fake social media accounts for the purpose of accessing information that would otherwise only be available to your “friends.” If you get a friend request from a person you don’t know in real life it’s best to ignore or decline it.

5. Do Keep Your Privacy Settings at the Highest Levels

While privacy controls do not prevent your social media history from becoming evidence in a lawsuit, it’s still a good idea to keep them set to the most restrictive/highest levels. Make sure that only your actual friends can see the information you post, not the general public or friends of friends.

Do You Need to Speak with an Attorney?

If you have questions about how social media can impact a potential legal claim you have, you should speak with a lawyer. The attorneys of Lewis, Lewis & Falkner are always happy to speak with you, and for many types of cases can give you a free consultation. Call us today at 205-553-5353, or come by our Tuscaloosa, Alabama office and let’s discuss how we can assist you.

You’ve probably heard that Alabama is an “employment at will” state, but what exactly does that mean?

Alabama law presumes that you are employed at will.  That is, unless you have an employment contract you are considered to be employed at will and therefore you are free to quit for any reason at any time.

By the same token, however, your employer can fire you at any time – for a good reason, a bad reason, or no reason at all. 

But you do have some important rights. 

Even if you are employed at will you cannot be fired for an illegal reason.  So, for example, federal law protects most employees from discrimination based on age, sex, religion, national origin,race, or disability.

Federal law also protects most workers from  retaliation by an employer after the worker reports discrimination, makes a worker’s compensation claim, or “blows the whistle” on the company’s illegal activity. Other laws may apply to your employer to protect your working conditions and to provide you with minimum wage, overtime, and time off protections.

If you have a question about your workplace rights you should speak with a lawyer. 

The attorneys of Lewis, Lewis & Falkner are available to talk to you. Call our Tuscaloosa office at 205-553-5353 today for your free consultation.