As the days get shorter and the nights get colder, the risk of an animal strike or animal crossing accident increases.
The Pew Charitable Trusts found that one to two million collisions between large animals and vehicles happen every year. These collisions alone account for 200 deaths and over 20,000 injuries. This number does not include strikes between cars and smaller mammals like dogs, cats, and raccoons.
Animal strike incidents are often deadly for the animal, but they can also be dangerous for human drivers and passengers. Not only are occupants of the vehicle that strikes an animal in danger but other motorists and passengers are also at risk of harm in an animal crossing accident. If you or your loved one is the victim of an animal crossing accident, contact a personal injury lawyer and take to them about your case.
How Animal Crossing Accidents Happen
Animals on and near the roadway are unpredictable, so it’s hard for drivers who encounter them to avoid a crash. Deer may appear as if they’re slowing down and stopping by the side of the road and suddenly leap out in front of your vehicle. Other animals will continue crossing the street only to reverse direction in the middle of it.
These sudden, erratic movements by animals promote unpredictable reactionary movements by drivers. In response to an animal crossing, you might:
- Slam on your brakes
- Swerve into oncoming traffic
- Quickly move into another lane of travel without signaling
- Do nothing and strike the animal, sending it into the path of other drivers
Just as you might be unprepared for the sudden movements of an animal crossing your path, other drivers might not expect your fast, evasive maneuvers. Under these circumstances, a car crash or pileup can quickly occur whether you strike the animal or not.
Dangers of Animal Crossing Accidents
Many of the dangers in typical car accidents are also present in animal crossing accidents. If you collide with an animal or another vehicle, you can suffer broken bones and lacerations from flying debris. You might also suffer a concussion if you strike your head on some part of the car.
These dangers can be even more pronounced in animal crossing cases. Injuries tend to be more severe in car accidents as the vehicles increase their rate of speed. The occupants of a vehicle traveling at 60 miles per hour will most likely have more severe injuries than occupants whose car was going 30 miles per hour before the crash.
In an animal crossing accident, you might not have sufficient time to slow down before colliding with the animal or another vehicle.
Moreover, certain animals like deer and moose can penetrate a car’s windshield and enter the passenger compartment during a crash. Any time a foreign object, like an animal or an animal’s antlers, enters the vehicle’s interior, the risk of severe injuries or death increases significantly.
Liability for an Accident Involving Animal Crossings
In a motor vehicle crash, a driver who is negligent and who causes the wreck is responsible for paying the financial losses of those hurt in the crash. This general principle does not change just because an animal is involved in the crash.
In an animal crossing accident, human beings are still responsible for the consequences of their negligent behavior. Several individuals might be liable in an animal crossing accident:
The Driver Who Swerved to Avoid Hitting an Animal
A court will evaluate a driver’s decision to try to avoid a collision with an animal by swerving with the same reasonableness standard it applies to other car accident cases.
If a reasonable driver would have made the same evasive maneuver under the same circumstances and decided to swerve and enter other lanes, then the driver would not be responsible for others’ injuries.
However, if the driver made a reckless decision, or if other alternative courses of action existed that could have avoided the accident, that driver may be responsible for damages.
An Animal’s Owner or Caretaker
No one owns wild animals, so if a crash occurs because a deer or raccoon crosses your path, there is no one to sue for damages. Instead, your auto insurance policy would pay any claims arising out of such a collision.
Colliding with a dog, cow, or another domesticated animal is different. Here, there is a person responsible for the animal’s care. Suppose that the owner did not exercise due care in keeping their animal from running loose. In that case, that owner may be responsible for paying damages if the animal causes a vehicle wreck.
The case for an animal owner’s liability is even stronger when:
- The animal has a history of escaping from its pen or enclosure
- The owner uses an enclosure or restraints that are not appropriate for the animal
- Someone informs the owner that their animals are running loose, but the owner does not take action to secure the animals
If you or a loved one has sustained injuries in a crash with a domestic animal, it will likely be to your advantage to have a knowledgeable car accident attorney investigate the owner’s liability.
What Your Animal Crossing Accident Attorney Can Do for You
Although animal crossing accidents may not occur as frequently as other types of motor vehicle wrecks, that doesn’t mean they are any less dangerous.
The Joel Bieber Firm is ready and capable of representing you from the very first moments after your wreck until we resolve your claim. We will investigate your accident thoroughly and hold all people responsible for your injuries to account.
Reach out to The Joel Bieber Firm today and discuss your case and your rights with our experienced and compassionate team. We’re waiting to speak with you and help you and your family recover from an animal crossing accident.