Car Accidents Caused By Animals on the Road—What You Need To Know


It doesn't matter if you're a driver, passenger, or pedestrian—being involved in a car accident can be quite a traumatic experience. Fortunately, with the help of car accident attorneys, victims can receive the compensation they deserve by holding negligent drivers responsible. But what happens if the cause of the accident is an animal instead of a vehicle? Animals can cause severe damage, especially wild animals that dart into the road out of nowhere. If you were involved in an accident caused by wildlife or a domesticated animal, there are a few things you need to know. In this article, we'll discuss the safety precautions and legal steps to take in the unfortunate event of hitting an animal on the road.

California Car Accident Laws Involving Animals

Although California has some of the most populated cities in the country, it also has miles on end of agricultural land and woodlands. Between Los Angeles and San Francisco alone are several hundred miles of farms and forests filled with animals like livestock or wild animals such as coyotes and deer. Depending on the type of animal you hit, you need to use your best judgment to prevent any further injuries. If you hit a large animal, staying in your car might be safer than getting out in case the animal tries to attack. But you must also take precautions to keep the animal safe, especially if it's still alive. For example, you can alert oncoming traffic by flashing your headlights to prevent another driver from hitting the animal. California law states that drivers must "without unnecessary delay, notify a local agency or animal control of the city wherein the collision occurred or, if the collision occurred in unincorporated territory, the local headquarters of the Department of the California Highway Patrol."

California Car Accident Laws Involving Animals

If you’re unsure of what to do, you can always call the police, especially if you were injured, as they can:

  • help you receive immediate medical attention
  • contact local authorities to remove the animal
  • control traffic near the scene of the accident
  • write a report

Domesticated Animals vs. Wild Animals

Earlier, we mentioned that California is home to many animals, such as wildlife and livestock. What we didn't mention is that 40% of Californians are pet owners, with many of them having multiple pets. In a state with a population of almost 40 million, that's a lot of cats and dogs. If you have an accident caused by a dog that jumped in front of your car, you can hold the owner of the dog liable for your injuries since pets are considered property. Even though unleashed dogs are a major hazard for drivers, you must be able to prove the accident was caused by the negligence of the dog's owner. The owner might say you are partially at fault if you were speeding or made an illegal turn. However, California's comparative negligence laws allow you to file a personal injury claim based on the percentage of damages each party is found liable for. This is yet another reason to call the police and have them write a report at the scene of the accident in case the dog owner denies any facts later on. And if the animal you hit was livestock, you're going to need a highly experienced accident attorney in California. Although livestock is considered property, it might be challenging to prove the livestock owner was negligent in allowing the animal to escape.

Domesticated Animals vs. Wild Animals

Now, going back to wild animals—based on the type of coverage you have, you might be unable to recover damages if you hit a deer. And, unfortunately, car insurance companies will not go out of their way to help you figure this out. We suggest contacting a local personal injury law firm to see if you can file a claim.

Why You Need a California Car Accident Attorney

As you've gathered, seeking compensation for a car accident caused by an animal is complicated. Consult a car accident attorney at Yepremyan Law Firm who can help you with your case. Our law firm in Los Angeles has been a trusted legal advisor since 1998, serving clients throughout Southern California. Contact us to schedule a free consultation with a Los Angeles car accident attorney today.

*No Legal Advice Intended. This website includes general information about legal issues and developments in the law. These materials have been prepared for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. Please consult an attorney for legal advice pertaining to any particular legal matter. Use of and access to this website or any of the links or resources contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader, user, or browser and Yepremyan Law Firm and any of its attorneys, employees, or associates.


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