What should I know about car accidents with animals in Virginia? | The Dickerson & Smith Law Group
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What should I know about car accidents with animals in Virginia?

Most Virginia drivers and motorcyclists do not even think about animals while driving, but animals can cause a fatal or injurious accident in a heartbeat. Wild animals like deer are especially dangerous because of their size and the fact that they are not typically fenced in. From July 2012 through June 2013, approximately 1.2 million motor vehicle crashes happened last year involving deer. Domestic animals like dogs, cats, cows, horses and pigs can also be extremely dangerous if they are allowed to roam free.

During the fall months, including November and December, deer can pose a threat in Virginia because it is mating and migration season. Therefore, it is a good time of year to review your insurance policy to make sure you are covered for deer accidents. Indeed, crashing into such a large animal can result in serious and costly damages to your vehicle and costly medical bills.

To avoid getting into an accident with a deer, avoid distracted driving -- i.e., do not eat while you are driving and do not text or talk on a cellphone. Always scan the roadway and the sides of roadways ahead of you to make sure your path is clear.

During nighttime driving, turn on your high beams to better illuminate the road in front of you. When you see an animal, honk your horn as long as possible to scare it away. Rather than swerving out of the way, brake and slow your vehicle down with control. If striking the deer is inevitable, release the brake just before hitting the animal; this will allow the front of the car to rise so the animal goes under the car instead of into your windshield.

In car accidents involving wild animals, there usually is no one to blame. However, if it is determined a driver hit a wild animal because he or she was distracted on a cellphone or negligent for some other reason, then injured passengers may have viable claims for financial restitution in court. Also, individuals who get into motor vehicle accidents with domestic animals like dogs, horses, cows or pigs may have claims for civil restitution against the owner of the animal.

Source: kolotv.com, "Take care to steer clear of deer" Valerie Vinyard, Nov. 04, 2014

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