Lorene Gerken Killed In Rockford Accident After Tree Fell Onto Mobile Home

Lorene Gerken Died In Accident Involving Falling Tree At Rockford Mobile Home Park

Lorene Gerken died in Rockford Mobile Home Accident After Being Crushed By Falling Tree

WINNEBAGO COUNTY, ILLINOIS (October 13, 2021) – A woman identified as Lorene Gerken has tragically died in an accident after a tree fell on top of her mobile home on South Main Street.

Rockford police officials are saying that the accident took place on Wednesday morning. Lorene Joy Gerken was in the mobile home when a large tree fell directly on top of it.

Lorene Gerken’s boyfriend and granddaughter became trapped by the tree. The child was able to free herself from the tree and firefighters were able to rescue the boyfriend.

Life-saving measures were taken to save Lorene Gerken, but she later died due to the severity of her injuries. A full investigation into the Rockford mobile home park accident remains ongoing at this time.

Liability In Rockford Accidents Involving Fallen Trees

Being injured or killed by a falling tree may seem like a freak occurrence, but these accidents are far more common than many people realize. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), over 100 people are killed by falling trees every year in the United States. Thousands more are left with serious injuries that require emergency care. There are a number of common reasons that a tree could fall over.

  • Insects: Bugs such as Black Bean aphids, Asian Longhorn Beetles and Emerald Ash Borers can damage the structural integrity of trees and thus make falls more likely.
  • Malnutrition: Trees are like any other living body. They need proper nutrition to grow and stay healthy. When a tree is malnourished it is more likely to fall over.
  • Construction: Construction workers may inadvertently damage tree roots in ways that seriously harms the tree.
  • Old Age: Even in the best of conditions, trees lose their ability to stay upright as they age.

Far from being “freak occurrences,” it is actually highly predictable when a tree will fall over. For example, when a tree shows signs of rot or has a number of branches that are falling off, a failure of the main trunk may not be that far away. Property owners in Illinois must use “reasonable care under the circumstances regarding the state of the premises or acts done or omitted on them.” This includes taking measures to prevent people from being injured or killed by falling trees. Property owners must monitor any rotten trees that could endanger the public.

When a tree is showing signs of severe damage or rot, property owners may need to remove the tree. This should be done to prevent anyone from being seriously injured. When a property owner fails to take measures to remove damaged trees they can be held liable in the event of an accident. To be successful in a civil claim involving a falling tree, plaintiffs will typically need to demonstrate three things. (1) Property owners knew, or should have known, that there was a dangerous condition with a tree, which posed an unreasonable risk of injury. (2) Property owners failed to correct the dangerous condition and did not warn others of the problem. (3) The victim was unaware that the dangerous condition existed.

Consider, for example,  the case of Stackhouse v. Royce Realty & Mgmt. Corp. A woman was seriously injured after being struck by a falling tree while walking on an Illinois golf course.  A tree on an adjacent property was infected with a fungus known as ganoderma applamatum and fell in 2006. Evidence was presented showing that a neighbor to the course called the superintendent to see if other trees had the fungus. Nineteen months later the plaintiff was injured by a falling tree that had the same fungus. Attorneys for the plaintiff were able to secure a settlement for their client. There are a number of steps that should be taken after any accident involving a fallen tree.

  • Eye witnesses should be interviewed.
  • Evidence at the accident site should be preserved.
  • The tree that fell should be examined by a certified arborist.
  • A full investigation into the circumstances of the accident should be conducted.

The family of any victim that died in an accident involving a falling tree may be able to seek damage through a wrongful death claim. Damages in a civil claim can help cover lost wages, medical bills and pain and suffering. It is important that  evidence is properly preserved after an accident. Property owners will often fight extremely hard to deny any responsibility for an accident that takes place on their premises. An Illinois premises liability attorney can examine all of the unique facts of your case and let you know what your legal options are.

Investigating A Rockford Mobile Home Park Accident Involving A Fallen Tree

We at Horwitz Horwitz & Associates extend our deepest condolences to the family of Lorene Joy Gerken. Any person that may have information about what happened should reach out to authorities. It is our sincere hope that measures are taken to help prevent additional accidents like this.

This accident also raises a number of safety concerns. Have other trees fallen at this mobile home park? Did the tree involved in this accident have a fungus or insect damage that contributed to the fall? What did the property owners know about this tree? Many accidents involving fallen trees can be prevented when property owners are proactive and thoroughly monitor the trees on their land. 

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