What to do if you hit an Animal

In Colorado, it is not uncommon to see wildlife near the roads when driving. Even in the city, people often see deer, coyotes, and many smaller animals while they drive. Unfortunately, the amount of wildlife around means that there are often accidents between these animals and vehicles.  State Farm estimates that 1.25 million accidents occur every year between cars and deer alone. Deer are the animals hit most often but animals like moose, elk, raccoons, birds, and even pets and livestock are also sometimes hit. The accidents can be dangerous and pose threats to both the driver and occupants of the car and the animals hit.

AAA has some recommendations for avoiding collisions with animals:

  1. Use your high beams if there is no oncoming traffic.
  2. Be especially cautious at dawn, dusk, and at night.
  3. Use your horn and brake if there is an animal in your path, do not swerve. The exception to this is if there is a moose in your path. According to the DMV, moose can weigh up to 1,600 pounds. Hitting a moose is comparable to hitting another car and swerving may be a defensive option if the situation allows.
  4. If you see one animal, be cautious, because there are likely others nearby.

If you do hit an animal, there are a couple of things to remember:

  1. If you hit a wild animal, like a moose or a deer, do not approach it. Even if you hit a domesticated animal, like a dog, be cautious if you approach it because a frightened animal may bite.
  2. Report the incident to the police. There are some animals that you are required to report hitting and it may be helpful when you file an insurance claim.
  3. An animal collision will be covered by your comprehensive insurance, not by your collision insurance even though hitting an animal is technically a collision.
  4. Don’t assume the car is safe to drive, check it out before you drive it again. Be especially careful if you hit small animals like raccoons, because they can cause damage to the undercarriage of the car.

Most of the damage caused by hitting an animal is property damage. In fact, insurance companies pay over a billion dollars a year in claims for accidents with wildlife in the United States. However, people are also often injured in accidents with animals, especially large animals like deer and moose, with thousands of injuries every year. Ordinarily, one cannot make a claim for bodily injuries arising from a collision with an animal. In certain limited circumstances, however, you may be able to seek compensation for these injuries if the animal had an owner and the owner’s negligence caused the animal to be where it shouldn’t be. If you are injured in an animal-related car accident, or any other accident, call Franklin D Azar and Associates today.