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Daniel Freudman
Daniel Freudman, Lawyer
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I have a residential development going on next door to me and

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I have a residential development going on next door to me and I believe their excavation work resulted in the death of my tree. So far the developer has been unwilling to compensate me for these damages informally. Can I sue for the full value of the tree? How do I go about doing this? How can I put a lien on his property for the value of the tree?

Calgary, Alberta

By the sounds of it, you can sue him for the damages he caused to you (i.e. value of tree loss), though there may be a preliminary step you wish to take.



First, it may be wise to send him a 'Demand Letter'. A Demand Letter is a letter that demands a person take a certain action otherwise you will pursue legal action. In this case, you would demand that he pay you the monetary compensation for the value of the lost tree, lest you commence legal action against him. The goal of this is to nip the issue in the bud by resolving the matter before it has to go to court. However, if he doesn't comply with the Demand Letter then you are left with little recourse other than commencing legal action. I understand that you have contacted him and demanded compensation, but a Demand Letter is generally sent on your behalf by a lawyer (and on the lawyer's / firm's letterhead) and signed by the lawyer- this makes the letter more intimidating than just you contacting him and demanding it without the imminent threat of legal action by a lawyer.

The main benefit of the Demand Letter is that it is relatively cost effective and will lead to a prompt resolution if he is agreeable to comply with the demand.


If that course of action fails, or if you don't think it will work and you just wish to skip it, then you can commence legal action against him in Small Claims Court. Small Claims Court is cost effective, as it only costs about $100 to commence an action, and you can represent yourself / needn't hire a lawyer. So, the first step would be to issue a Statement of Claim (document that sets out your legal claim against the party, and is the first document used to commence a lawsuit) against the person.


In conclusion, the best course of action would likely be as follows: Send a Demand Letter- if that is unsuccessful, commence a Claim in Small Claims Court. In this Statement of Claim, claim damages for destruction of your property. You may also claim interests as well as the costs you incurred to file the Claim.



Hopefully that is of assistance.


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DISCLAIMER: My communication is general legal information only and is not intended to be relied upon. This information is not legal advice, nor is it a substitute for such, and if you are seeking legal advice then it is recommended that you retain an attorney. There is no guarantee as to the accuracy of this information, nor shall I be held liable for any claim, demand or damages, actual or consequential, of any kind or nature, known or unknown, arising out of or in any way connected to this information or the issue it pertains to. No solicitor-client relationship has been created by this communication.

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