Hire Licensed Professional Arborists to Remove Storm-Damaged Trees

Hallie Dozier, Attaway, Denise  |  9/12/2008 9:33:45 PM

If the recent hurricanes have left fallen trees and branches on your property, Dr. Hallie Dozier of the LSU AgCenter cautions you to take care in hiring tree crews to remove the debris. Make certain that the outfit has insurance coverage. If you wish to remove a standing tree or prune damaged branches from a tree, hire only Louisiana-licensed professional arborists to remove the trees.

“Property owners need to be aware that if they hire an unlicensed person to do routine tree work (e.g.,remove a tree or prune a branch), the property owner runs the risk of being held liable if something goes wrong,” Dozier said. “In other words, the property owner is responsible for assuring that all of the Louisiana licenses, insurance policies and so forth are valid before hiring any kind of contractor.”

As far as routine tree work, an out-of-state license does not count in Louisiana, Dozier stressed.

“This means that a person who is licensed in Arkansas, Texas and/or Mississippi but is not licensed in Louisiana cannot legally remove trees in Louisiana,” she said. They can, however, removed debris – anything that has fallen onto your house, drive or lawn. If the tree is still standing, or the branch is in a tree that is standing, the law considers that routine tree work that requires a state license.

According to the Louisiana horticulture law, “No person shall receive fees, advertise or solicit business in a regulated profession or occupation unless this person holds the appropriate license or permit, or has a regular employee who holds the appropriate license or permit, or is employed by a person who holds the appropriate license or permit. In addition, all licensees are required to place their license numbers on all business-related vehicles that have advertisements on them.”

Hiring an unlicensed person to remove storm-damaged trees is a liability issue, Dozier said.

“I urge everyone not to hire people who come around knocking on doors for routine work,” she said. "This poses a problem for folks who are afraid of a tree that is leaning, or split, or otherwise is a hazard because the ‘door knockers’ are here in great numbers and our Louisiana-licensed guys are busy taking trees out of houses that have recently fallen. I urge everyone to be prudent and hire only someone with a Louisiana license.”

A Louisiana arborist license authorizes the holder to make recommendations or execute tree surgery-type work, including tree removal, pruning, trimming, cabling, fertilization and cavity work. Licensees must enter into a written contract with property owners specifying work to be done and sum to be paid. Property owners should ask to see a current copy of the arborist's certificate of insurance.

A list of people licensed to do this type of work in Louisiana can be obtained from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, or by calling 225--952-8100.

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