When it comes to car accidents involving another vehicle or pedestrian, it is usually a simple ordeal to decide who is at fault. There is usually clearly defined laws to help decide who is the cause of the accident, along with aids such as crossing signals, stop signs, and traffic lights. When it comes to animals however, not many people know the laws that are involved with car accidents involving them. If a dog runs out in front of your vehicle and you can’t stop in time, what should you do? What is the next step? More importantly, who is at fault for the incident?
While each state has it’s own laws about vehicle accidents involving animals, they are all mostly handled the same. In almost all cases, if you strike a animal with a vehicle, the owners of the pet are the ones held liable for the incident, possibly including any damage that your vehicle may have sustained. When a person takes an animal under their care, they are legally supposed to keep the animal under control. Much like the laws of dog bites, it is up to the animal’s owner to keep it from attacking others, and to keep it out of moving traffic.
If the accident caused by the animal results in medical injury, or the destruction of property besides the vehicle involved, it can also fall upon the animal’s owner. Even if your vehicle doesn’t hit the animal, but gets damaged from an attempt to avoid hitting it, it also falls under the same rules. Now that you know the general rules of liability, let’s take a few moments to look over some important things to remember if you are involved in an animal related incident.
If you are unsure about how to handle a situation, treat it like a normal traffic accident. The first thing you should do is to call the proper authorities. If the animal in question is injured, do only as much as you are able to help it. If you are unsure how to help it, or if you feel it is unsafe to approach it, stay away from it. You should refrain from moving the animal if at all possible. For one, it can be seen the same as tampering with evidence if the case goes to court, and secondly, it can cause further injury to the animal. Wait for the police to show up at the scene before taking further action.
If the owner of the animal is present, try and keep them from moving the animal as well. If there is damage done to your vehicle, take photos of it with your smartphone or a camera if you have one on you. For more on what to do with the situation, you can contact your insurance company, or call (386)-409-9004 and talk to Ward T. Berg.