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Who Is Liable for Car Accidents Caused by Animals?

Posted in Car Accidents

Car accidents caused by animals are fairly common in New Mexico, especially in the rural parts of the state. Larger animals like deer and livestock can cause serious damage and injuries to victims in a vehicle-animal collision. With New Mexico being the eighth state in the U.S. for animal-related accidents, it is important to know what to do if you or someone you know is involved in this type of crash.

Will Your Insurance Cover an Accident Caused by an Animal?

Most insurance companies will cover an accident caused by an animal as long as you have chosen comprehensive coverage for your insurance policy. Comprehensive coverage will pay for repairs and damage to property caused by events outside of a driver’s control, including weather, fire, vandalism and animals. Comprehensive insurance is an optional upgrade rather than a required type of insurance in New Mexico. Talk to your insurance provider or review your policy to find out if you are covered by first-party insurance in the event of an animal collision.

Can You File a Third-Party Claim?

One important thing to note when involved in a car accident caused by an animal is whether or not the animal in question is a domestic animal. You may be able to file a claim with someone else’s insurance company for your property damage and medical bills if it is a domestic animal, such as someone’s dog.

In New Mexico, if a domestic animal is the cause of a motor vehicle crash, the owner of the pet could bear liability – especially if the pet was allowed to run at large somewhere other than the owner’s property, such as on a public road. Most claims involving domestic animals are filed through the pet owner’s homeowners property insurance policy.

If your crash involved a wild animal, on the other hand, no pet owner can be held responsible. Instead, you may need to search for another outlet for financial recovery, such as the government. The city or state government could be liable for a road defect that contributed to your crash, such as a lack of proper street lighting.

You may also be able to hold another driver responsible if he or she swerved to avoid an animal and hit you. A lawyer can investigate your accident to determine if there is someone you can hold responsible for your losses.

Steps to Take if You Are Involved in an Animal-Related Car Accident

The future of your insurance claim relies on taking the correct steps after a car accident involving an animal in Albuquerque. While you may feel confused and overwhelmed in the aftermath of a crash, try to remember to remain calm and perform the following actions:

  1. If possible, pull over to a safe location and put on your emergency lights.
  2. Check yourself and any other passengers for injuries.
  3. Check your vehicle for damage and stay away from the animal to prevent further harm to it or yourself.
  4. Call the police and file a report with an officer to ensure the accident is documented. The police can also protect other drivers if the animal is blocking traffic.
  5. Take photographs of the scene of the accident.
  6. Call your car insurance company to file an initial claim. Do not admit fault for the accident, do not give a recorded statement and do not accept a fast settlement.
  7. Contact an attorney for assistance. A car accident lawyer can help you with the remaining steps, including going up against a third party in pursuit of financial compensation.

If you cannot take all of these steps, don’t worry. An experienced attorney in Albuquerque can help you with the recovery process from the very beginning.

Contact an Attorney if You Get Into an Accident Caused by a Crossing Animal

If you are in an accident caused by an animal in New Mexico, contact a car accident attorney for help with the legal process. Whether or not your own insurance company will cover your losses, a lawyer can help you protect your rights. At The Fine Law Firm, we offer free consultations so that you can get more information about your crash at no financial risk.

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