Who Is Liable If a Car Accident Is Caused by an Animal?
There are many areas in Texas where animals, including wildlife, crossing the road is a common sight. An animal – like a stray dog or raccoon – can cause a car accident even when you do not expect it, especially at night when visibility is reduced.
Often, a driver may end up hitting an animal. Other times, a driver may avoid hitting the animal but end up hitting another vehicle or stationary object (e.g., a light pole, tree, or fence) when performing an evasive maneuver.
Who is liable if a car accident is caused by an animal? As a knowledgeable car accident attorney at The Law Office of Steve Brannan, I can help you determine liability for an accident caused by an animal and explain what legal options you might have. With an office in Odessa, Texas, I serve accident victims throughout communities in West Texas, including Pecos, Midland, Andrews, and Big Spring.
Common Accidents Caused by Animals
There are several types of accidents involving animals on the road. Common accidents caused by animals include:
Head-on collisions. An animal can dart in front of your vehicle on the roadway, causing a head-on collision. These accidents may result in severe damage to the vehicle and vehicle occupant injuries.
Crashes with stationary objects. When an animal darts into the road and the driver is able to react in time to avoid hitting the animal, they may swerve and crash into a stationary object such as a fence, tree, light pole, or guardrail.
Crashes with other vehicles. When a driver swerves to avoid a collision with the animal, they may end up crashing into another vehicle on the road. This type of accident has the potential to turn into a pile-up crash when more than two vehicles are involved.
The severity of accidents that involve animals is dependent upon multiple factors, including the size of the animal, the speed at which the vehicle was traveling, the number of vehicles involved, and how much time the driver had to react before impact.
Who Is Liable for an Accident Caused by an Animal?
When you are involved in an accident caused by an animal, you might wonder, “Who is liable and how can I receive compensation for damages?” While you cannot sue the animal, there may be other ways to obtain compensation. If the animal has an owner, you might be able to hold the owner liable.
Filing a claim against the owner of the animal is not uncommon in Texas, which is home to many farms and ranches. Those who own and operate ranches and farms are responsible for keeping their animals off freeways and highways.
But, who is liable if avoiding hitting an animal caused an accident? If a driver swerves to avoid hitting an animal and ends up colliding with another vehicle, they could be held liable for the resulting crash if their actions were deemed “negligent.” Drivers should always pay attention to and obey traffic signs – particularly wildlife crossing signs – to know when to reduce their speed and be more alert.
What Happens in the Case of Wildlife?
When your car crash involves wildlife, there is typically no person to pursue a claim against because wild animals have no owners. For this reason, people involved in car accidents caused by wild animals will typically have to file a claim with their own insurance company to obtain compensation.
If you hit a wild animal, you might be able to pursue compensation through comprehensive coverage, if you have one. Comprehensive coverage is not mandatory in the state of Texas, which is why many drivers do not purchase it. If you opted out of having comprehensive coverage, you might need to pay for your damages and losses out of pocket. However, other compensation options may be available in your case, so you may want to discuss your case with an experienced attorney.
Trusted and Experienced Legal Guidance
If you have been in a car accident involving an animal – wildlife or someone else’s animal – consider speaking with a skilled attorney. As a car accident attorney at The Law Office of Steve Brannan, I can provide you with the trusted and experienced legal guidance you need to help you recover damages and pursue the compensation you deserve. Reach out to my office in Odessa, Texas, for a free case evaluation.