Last November, a 50-year-old woman from Spring Valley died when her husband’s car struck a deer on the Palisades Interstate Parkway. The vehicle swerved onto the grass median and into the woods, where it overturned and hit several trees.
If you’ve done a lot of driving outside the city, then you’ve probably seen deer and other animals at the side of the road. While these glimpses of nature can be rewarding, they are also risky. As the story above indicates, forest animals have been known to dart across the road and into an oncoming car’s path without warning, resulting in a collision that can leave the car’s occupants and the animal injured or even killed.
It isn’t only wild animals that can cause serious collisions. Wandering livestock and domestic animals like dogs and cats can also run across a road suddenly. If you swerve and manage to avoid it, then you can still hit a tree, go into the ditch, or swing into oncoming traffic and cause a multi-vehicle accident.
What can you do if this happens? You can’t argue that a deer or cat should have known the rules of the road. So how can you recover damages like medical bills, lost wages, and property damage?
An estimated 65,000 collisions occur between deer and motor vehicles every year in New York. This is an average of one accident every eight minutes. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has stated that in 2016 (the last year for which statistics are available), 189 people died in automobile accidents involving animals. While these accidents usually take place in the fall, they can happen in winter, when slippery roads compound the danger.
When a wild animal causes your injuries, there is not generally anyone you can file a claim against. You will have to file a claim with your own insurance company. If you were a passenger, then you might be able to sue the driver who hit the animal, though.
If a domestic animal like a wandering cow or loose dog rushes into your path and you are injured when you hit it or swerve to avoid it, then the owner may be found liable if they did not take reasonable steps to ensure that the animal did not wander off their property. These animals are expected to be restrained, and the owner could be deemed negligent.
Whatever the circumstances of the accident, a New York personal injury lawyer will recommend the best course of action based on what happened and what type of animal was involved (wild vs. domestic). Following your attorney’s advice is the best way to get the compensation you need.
If you were involved in a collision involving a wild or domestic animal, then be sure to seek adequate medical attention first. It is also important to speak to an attorney as you may be eligible for a cash settlement or judgment to help you pay your medical bills and cover your lost wages as well as compensate for non economic damages, such as pain and suffering. Jayson Lutzky is a highly experienced personal injury lawyer with an office in the Bronx, NY. Call 718-329-9500 to set up a free in-person initial consultation. If possible, bring a copy of your police report to your appointment.