When Animals Cause Severe Car Accidents
The California Highway Patrol reports that over two thousand automobile accidents were caused by collisions with wildlife in a recent year. And across the country over 12 thousand people are injured and more than 150 die in an average year due to accidents caused by animals.
Both wild and domesticated animals in the roadway are a serious threat to driver safety. They often cause collisions that involve more than one vehicle, and this can make it very complicated when you try to collect damages from the negligent driver’s insurance company.
Nobody wants to harm an animal, but swerving to avoid one may result in serious injuries to drivers, their passengers, and occupants of other vehicles. That’s why it’s important to make every effort to slow down, stay in your lane, and maintain control of your vehicle when an animal is in the roadway.
Animals That Cause Road Accidents in California
Although California has a significant urban and suburban population, it’s also a leading agricultural state. That means large numbers of drivers may come into contact with farm animals on the road. Loose pets such as dogs and cats also cause a lot of accidents.
California is home to millions of wild animals. The various types of wild and domesticated animals that can be found in the roadway include:
A driver is forced to make a difficult split-second decision when an animal darts in front of your vehicle, and the natural tendency is to swerve to avoid hitting an animal in the roadway. But swerving is very dangerous. That’s why it’s best to slow down and honk your horn when possible.
When a driver suddenly veers off course, a lot of bad things can happen, including:
- Rollover accidents
- Driving into a ditch or ravine
- A multi-vehicle collision
- Crashing into a car traveling in the opposite direction
- Colliding with a solid object on the side of the road
If a domesticated animal causes an accident, the owner may be held liable for injuries that result. But there’s no automatic assumption of guilt on the part of the owner in California when an animal is in the roadway.
To collect damages, the victim must prove that the animal owner willfully or negligently allowed an animal to stray onto a public road. That means demonstrating that the owner failed to make a reasonable attempt to monitor the location of their animals and prevent them from straying.
When it comes to determining liability for automobile accidents, California is an at-fault state. Anyone whose negligence contributes to an accident may be required to pay for the victim’s medical expenses and other costs resulting from the accident.
Even when an animal is involved, drivers and others who contribute to an automobile accident may be held liable for the following types of unsafe behavior:
- Distracted driving
- Fatigued driving
- Unsafe lane changes
- Driving too fast for weather condition
- Poorly marked roads
- Insufficient lighting
- Defective automobile parts
What to Do if You See an Animal in The Road
If you see an animal in the road, avoid swerving unless the animal is so large that colliding with it could harm you or other occupants in your vehicle. If you hit an animal, move to the side of the road, check to see if anyone inside the vehicle is hurt, and dial 911.
Do not make any attempt to touch or move the animal, as this could endanger yourself and other drivers. If you feel up to it, you may want to collect contact information from witnesses and other drivers. You can use your cell phone to take pictures of the accident scene, but make sure you don’t cause a hazard or interfere with first responders.
Were You Harmed in a Long Beach Automobile Crash?
Determining liability in an accident caused by an animal in the roadway can be very difficult. Insurance companies will do everything they can to deny your claim and blame others for their client’s careless behavior.
Joseph H. Low IV knows how to stand up to the big insurance companies. Our Long Beach car accident lawyer will investigate your accident, and then we’ll file a claim against anyone whose negligent actions contributed to your injuries.
Call (562) 901-0840 to schedule a FREE consultation today. And remember: At The Law Firm Joseph H. Low IV, you won’t owe us anything unless we win you a settlement.