What Should I Do If I Hit A Deer While Driving?
North Carolina Auto Accident Attorney Explains These Types of Insurance Claims
Hitting another car is entirely different than hitting a deer that darts across your path in the middle of the night. A deer can cause significant damage to your vehicle and serious personal injuries to you. However, you may be able to collect compensation for these damages from your own insurance company. Additionally, hitting a deer is not typically the fault of the driver. Therefore, if you hit a deer and carry full coverage, then your premium should not increase because this is a covered loss that is not considered an “at fault” accident.
Getting a fair settlement from an insurance company, even your own provider, is often difficult. Claims for car accidents can be especially difficult, since you may not have any evidence beyond your word that a deer caused the damage. A North Carolina auto accident attorney from Riddle & Brantley, LLP, can assist you with an insurance claim after a deer vs car crash. We offer complimentary consultations and only collect attorney fees if we obtain a recovery on your behalf.
Will My Insurance Cover a Car Crash if I Hit a Deer?
If you have full insurance coverage, then your policy should cover your damages after a car crash caused by a deer. This includes medical expenses for your personal injuries as well as the cost of repairs to your vehicle. However, if you do not have full coverage then you may have to pay for your damages yourself.
To understand what types of coverage you have, you should carefully review the auto declarations page that you receive periodically from your auto insurance carrier. Check to ensure you have “comprehensive” or “collision” coverage. These types of policies cover car accidents with deer and other animals. Other types of policies typically do not.
Specifically review the box on your declarations page (usually section D for North Carolina policies) titled “Damage to Your Auto”. You should find one subsection entitled “damage to your auto other than collision”. This is comprehensive coverage and applies to damage caused by something other than a car crash with another vehicle, less the applicable deductible which will be specifically stated. This includes if you hit a deer or have a rock hit your windshield.
“Collision” coverage is also listed under “Damage to Your Auto”. This will provide coverage for an accident if you have a collision with another object. Depending upon your state and your insurance company, you may be able to choose between “comprehensive” or “collision” coverage to pay for your damages from hitting a deer. However, you could see an increase in your premium if you use your collision coverage.
For these reasons, in our opinion, it is best to have full car insurance coverage. In the event of a car accident from hitting a deer, you can choose to file an insurance claim. Otherwise, you can pay for the repairs on your own, if they are minimal.
What If Another Driver Swerves to Avoid a Deer and Hits Me?
If a deer darts in front of another driver and causes that driver to hit your vehicle, the other driver may not be liable for your damages. The other driver’s insurance policy will only extend to your car accident injuries and damages if you can show that he or she acted negligently or violated a rule of the road. Otherwise, you may have to use your own insurance to cover the expense of your injuries and damages.
The other driver may not be at fault for a car accident if a sudden emergency was the direct cause of the crash, instead of something the driver did wrong. In situations where a driver hits the deer and then causes a car crash, the driver is likely not liable for the damages. Therefore, a dead deer at the accident scene is good evidence that an emergency caused the crash.
It is natural for a driver to instinctively swerve to avoid obstructions in the roadway, like a deer. However, if that driver over-corrected or overreacted to seeing a deer, that may qualify as negligence if a car accident results. In that situation, he or she could be held liable for any resulting car crash injuries and/or damages.
In these instances, insurance adjusters will always try to argue that the deer was the primary cause of the car crash to avoid paying your claim. However, if another driver hit you while trying to avoid a deer, negligence was likely a contributing factor. In some cases our lawyers have represented, there was not really a deer involved in the car accident at all. The driver just used the “deer” excuse to explain why he crashed his vehicle. In some cases like this, we were able to recover for the passengers that were injured. No deer was found at the scene and the passengers never saw a deer. Every case is different but we have represented many injured passengers where the driver claim a phantom deer caused the accident, yet we were able to recover for those passengers.
Tips to Avoid Deer Accidents
The best policy is to avoid auto accidents at all costs, including accidents with deer. The attorneys and staff at our law firm know this very well. Even senior attorney Gene Riddle hit a deer in the road in Clayton a couple years ago. He reports, “It was scary and horrible”. The poor deer died and the vehicle sustained about $5,000 in damage which insurance fortunately covered. Remember—deer like to roam the woods near roads, especially at night. Avoiding these areas can help you avoid costly deer vs car accidents. However, if you have no alternative, it is important to follow some simple guidelines that may help you or your loved ones from becoming involved in a collision with a deer.
Some of these tips include:
- Stay alert at all times.
- Be extra attentive if you see roadway signs warning of a deer crossing.
- Drive the speed limit or under if you see warning signs.
- At night, be alert to the sides of the road. Often, you will see the reflection of a deer’s eyes before you see its body.
- Use your high beams if there is no oncoming traffic.
- If you see one deer, then there may be more nearby. Take precautions, like slowing down.
- Do not jerk the wheel if a deer runs across your path. Instead, brake firmly and turn the wheel only as much as necessary to avoid the collision.
- Always wear your seatbelt to prevent serious car accident injuries in the event that you cannot avoid the deer.
- If you hit a deer, do not approach it. A wounded deer can cause serious personal injuries.
- As with all auto accidents, if you cannot avoid a car crash caused by a deer, contact the police.
Involved in a Deer Related Accident? Contact an Auto Accident Attorney Today
Following a car accident caused by a deer, it is important to have accurate information so that you understand what your legal options are and how you can begin the recovery process. For more than 30 years, the lawyers at the law offices of Riddle & Brantley, LLP have been helping accident victims fight for the justice that they deserve. A North Carolina auto accident attorney from our law firm can provide an honest assessment of your damages claim after a collision caused by a deer.
We have four locations in North Carolina, including Goldsboro, Raleigh, Kinston and Jacksonville. However, we offer free consultations to injury victims throughout the state. If you need advice or answers to an accident related question, contact our accident injury lawyers today. Call (800)525-7111 or simply fill out our free case evaluation form and let us contact you.