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Who's Responsible in Collisions Involving Animals?

Collisions with other vehicles and pedestrians account for the majority of car accidents, but a good number of crashes involve animals too. If you're one of the unlucky people who had an accident because of a critter in the road, getting paid for your damages and losses may be difficult. Here are two questions to ask to help you figure out the best way to handle your case.

Is It a Domestic or Wild Animal?

To win compensation for losses sustained in the accident, you must first establish who the liable party is. Determining if anyone is liable when the incident involves an animal, however, depends on whether it was a domestic or wild creature.

It's easy to establish liability when domestic animals are involved, as the people who own them are the responsible parties. Animal owners have a duty to keep them under control at all times. If a cow escapes its enclosure and stands in the middle of the road, the farmer who owns it would have to pay for any damages that occur if someone got into an accident because of the animal.

Unfortunately, when it comes to wild animals, assigning liability isn't as easy. In the majority of cases, the incident will be treated like a random act of god and you'll be stuck paying out of pocket for your own damages if your insurance policy doesn't cover these types of accidents.

Regardless, it's a good idea to consult with an attorney after a car accident with an animal. A lawyer can help you go after the responsible party if there is one, or—at the very least—ensure your insurance company pays you a fair amount for any damages it's required to cover.

Was Someone Negligent?

As noted previously, there generally isn't anyone to hold liable for an accident with a wild animal. However, if someone's negligence causes you to collide with a wild animal when you otherwise wouldn't have, you can go after that person for compensation.

For instance, a barrier is setup to prevent deer from crossing a section of road. However, someone damages it, leaving a hole big enough for a deer to squeeze through. If you get into an accident because of a rogue deer, you could hold the person who damaged the barrier responsible because it was their negligent actions that allowed the animal access to a place it shouldn't have been.

Proving negligence and liability in a case like this can be a bit tricky, though, so it's essential you talk to an auto accident attorney about your situation before proceeding. The lawyer will let you know what's needed to make your case and improve your chances of getting the money you're owed.

For help with your accident case, contact a local accident attorney.