If you own a large property with a lot of trees– especially if you’re in the logging business– you’re bound to encounter the specter of timber theft eventually.
But whether the loggers you hired just “accidentally” strayed into an area they weren’t supposed to, or your neighbor decided to cut down trees on your property without your permission, there are a few steps you can take to make sure you receive all the damages you’re entitled to under Louisiana law.
Here are 3 things to do if you suspect timber theft in Louisiana.
1. Document evidence of the theft
Under Louisiana law, any person who cuts down trees without the consent or direction of the owner must pay three times the commercial value of the stolen timber. This means you might be entitled to a serious amount of damages.
In order to prove that the theft did take place on your property and without your consent, it’s important to document as much information about the theft as possible:
- Take photos of the scene. Capture the stumps, the felled trees, and any other damage to your property. If possible, take photos that demonstrate how far over the property line the logging took place.
- Clarify the exact location of your property lines. Mark down on a map, and on your photos if possible, how much of your property was stolen by the illegal logging. If the boundaries between your and a neighboring property are unclear, hire a surveyor to clarify where your property begins and ends.
- Go over any contracts or agreements. If this is a case of a logger or other contractor straying beyond what you had agreed, make sure that your contract was airtight so that they can’t find any loopholes or other ways to avoid responsibility for the damage they caused.
2. Hire an attorney
After you’ve gathered all your evidence, the most crucial step you can take is contacting an attorney who has experience with timber theft cases in Louisiana.
However airtight your case, an attorney will always be able to help make sure you are receiving as much in damages as you are entitled to.
For example, under Louisiana law, even if the timber theft was made in “good faith”– meaning it was an honest mistake and not an intentional attempt to steal from you– you may still be entitled to damages as high as three times the commercial value of the stolen timber.
An experienced timber theft attorney like Davey Jones of The Jones Law Firm will help you make sure you’re getting the best deal possible from your lawsuit.
3. Enter settlement negotiations or file a lawsuit
Once you’ve gathered all your evidence and secured the services of a qualified attorney, it’s time to officially file a lawsuit.
An experienced attorney will often be able to reach a settlement with the defendants before any suit is actually filed. The opposing party will likely want to avoid a costly lawsuit.
But in the event that a lawsuit does go forward, an attorney will help you present all of your evidence to prove that the timber thief is responsible for the damages to your property.
Hire a Louisiana timber theft attorney today
Timber theft may be an unavoidable danger in the logging business, but that doesn’t mean you have to eat all the costs by yourself.
Attorney Davey Jones can help you make sure you’re receiving the full value of damages that you’re entitled to under Louisiana law. Contact us today!