Timber theft is taken very seriously under Louisiana law. Even if the person who is responsible isn’t aware that they’ve committed timber theft, they can still be liable for some pretty hefty damages.
So it’s important to understand what does and doesn’t count as timber theft in this state, and our team at the Jones Law Firm is here to help. Here are some things to know while you’re navigating the world of Louisiana timber law.
Three types of timber theft
There are three different circumstances under which a person’s timber might be stolen.
- Intentional timber theft— Under this scenario, a logger, neighbor, or complete stranger will intentionally cut down trees that don’t belong to them. Under the law, this kind of timber theft is liable for strict payment of damages.
- Contract misunderstanding— Whether their claim is accurate or not, some loggers will claim that they mistakenly cut down trees that were not included in their contract. This is especially common with more valuable types of trees.
- Straying onto a neighbor’s property— Sometimes, loggers will accidentally stray onto a neighbor’s property. These kinds of disputes can also sometimes take place along individuals’ property boundaries, outside of the commercial logging world.
“Good faith” timber theft
According to Louisiana law, a person who commits the first type of timber theft described above is liable for damages three times the commercial value of the stolen timber.
A person who commits the other two types of timber theft, however, is responsible for a mistake made in “good faith.” What this means is that they truly didn’t intend to steal timber that didn’t belong to them.
Good faith timber thieves might still be liable for damages three times the commercial value of the stolen timber, however.
If it is determined that the logger should have known, through reasonable diligence, that the trees should not have been cut, treble damages would still apply.
So whether it was a good faith mistake or intentional theft, the owner of the trees might have a case either way. Check out our post on the Timber Theft Statute for more information.
What to do if you are a victim of timber theft
There are a number of important steps to take if you suspect your timber has been stolen.
- First, make sure that you are documenting all important evidence at the scene. Take pictures of the felled trees, document the boundary lines of your property, and capture any other physical evidence at the scene to demonstrate that the trees have been cut down on your property without your consent.
- Second, go over any contracts or agreements you may have had. Let’s say you hired someone to cut down your trees, and they just happened to cut down a few more than you had agreed on. It will be important to show that you were explicit with your instructions, but they ignored those instructions to cut down a few extra trees anyway.
- Finally, the most important thing you can do is contact a Louisiana timber theft attorney. Attorneys experienced in timber theft cases will be able to help you pursue damages for your stolen timber, and make sure you get the full compensation you are entitled to under Louisiana law.
Hire a timber theft attorney in Louisiana today
Whether a logger violated the contract you had signed with them, or a neighbor decided to cut down a few trees on your property without your permission, The Jones Law Firm can help you seek out the fullest compensation possible. Contact us today!