Car Accident Compensation for Collisions With Animals

We might make the roads, but animals use them just as frequently. Smaller animals such as stray dogs, raccoons, and opossums can cause accidents, and deer are among the largest causes for accidents. In fact, an estimated 1.5 million car crashes per year are a result of deer crossing, but it isn’t the deer that pays for your damages.

Several different events can occur when faced with an animal in the road. Even if you are able to evade the animal, swift maneuvering can sometimes cause a collision with another vehicle or stationary objects nearby. If you are unable to evade the animal, hitting it head on can also cause serious damage. These factors determine liability and what happens to your insurance thereafter. 

Examine Your Insurance Policy

If you have the chance to evaluate your policy before ever getting into a collision with an animal, this will benefit you in the long run. Many people believe that either their insurance minimum or collision coverage will assist in the case of hitting an animal, but this is not true. Minimum coverage liability insurance only covers other drivers and not your own damages. If you hit an animal, then there are no other damages, and this doesn’t include your own vehicles damages.

The majority of people also purchase collision coverage, which covers your injuries and repairs in the case of a collision, but only a collision with other vehicles. Especially if you live in an area that is prone to deer or other wild animals, it is imperative that you add comprehensive coverage to your policy.

In some cases, hitting a wild animal may be the less severe event; you may at least avoid colliding with another vehicle or veering off the road or into oncoming traffic. To what extent your insurance covers the incident depends specifically on your policy, its terms, and the details of the event. Comprehensive coverage is typically the most applicable in these cases, though they may still not apply if you haven’t hit your high deductible.

If You Hit a Wild Animal

You want to make sure you don’t cause a collision in an effort to avoid hitting an animal. If you swerve to avoid an animal in the road and causes an accident, you are liable for the damages. In this situation, liability is clear. The law does not protect you if you put an animal’s life before the lives of other humans. In the event that an animal darts in front of your car, the law believes a crash is still avoidable if the driver simply hits the animal. It may seem instinctual to swerve, however, the law declares that such an action is enough for holding you liable and responsible.

The bottom line: know your area. If you live in an area that is highly populated with deer, you should have comprehensive coverage in the very least. Most of these areas actually offer policies that specifically carry deer coverage, so be sure to speak with your insurance provider. Insurance companies even recommend obtaining this coverage when renting a vehicle. Insurance while renting a vehicle can be tricky, but costs for damages on a rental vehicle can be even greater.