A collision with a wild animal, livestock, or domestic animal can be a traumatic experience for all involved, especially when it isn’t obvious who is at fault for hitting an animal. The variation in circumstances when the incident occurs will greatly affect the outcome. For instance, the species of animal involved will play a large role in determining where the fault may lie. Over 260,000 animals are struck by cars on U.S. roads each year. Such car accidents can account for $4 billion in total costs.
If you have been involved in a car accident in the State of Florida, which has resulted in hitting an animal, then get in touch with a legal professional today. By getting in contact with The Law Place, we will be able to walk you through the legal process, offer you support, and help determine who is at fault for hitting the animal. Here at The Law Place, our team of personal injury lawyers has gathered 75 years of combined experience in handling cases just like yours. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a lawyer on our team. Call us at (941) 444-4444. Our phone lines are open 24/7.
What If I Hit a Wild Animal?
In Florida, there is normally no legal fault if you hit a wild animal with your vehicle. Deer are the most commonly struck animal in the state, as they can be a quick and unpredictable animal. After the accident, your insurance company will try to determine whether or not you will be paying for any vehicle damage that was caused by the collision. This is alongside any medical fees that are required, which can be partially or fully covered by Personal injury Protection (PIP). This is dependent on the type of coverage you have opted for (comprehensive coverage or collision coverage), and lastly, you may also be charged for any carcass removal from the scene, as well as a towing fee of your vehicle.
It should also be noted that, as the driver involved in the accident, you should call the police to allow for the scene to be looked at and documented. This should ideally be done as quickly as possible. Doing this allows for the insurance process to go as smoothly as possible.
What If I Have Hit Livestock?
If the accident was to occur in an area where the livestock can legally roam free, the animal’s owner is not at fault. This, therefore, means you become responsible for filing a police accident report. There is also a possibility that you could have to pay for the cost of the animal hit, though this may not be the full price at which the animal was originally purchased.
However, if the accident were to have taken place in an area that the animal is not enclosed in, the animal’s owner is responsible. If the owner has been negligent in not keeping their animals in a fenced area, they would be responsible and have to pay for any damage to your vehicle or the cost of any treatment for your injuries.
What If I Hit a Domestic Animal?
Legally, domestic pets such as dogs are seen as personal property. Therefore any damage caused when you hit an animal must be reported. A hit-and-run scenario would be considered illegal. This is per the State of Florida’s hit-and-run law, which can be found in Florida Statute 316.061. You are legally required to exchange details with the pet owner, ideally at the first opportunity, and report the accident to the police if the owner is not found successfully. If necessary, it is important for medical professionals to be called to the scene immediately in order to attend to any injuries sustained in the accident. Florida Statute 627.736 states that you must receive medical attention within two weeks of your accident or else any future personal injury claims could be at risk.
The owner of the animal is often seen as liable due to the fact pet owners are required to stop their pets from roaming freely. However, there are instances where the driver of the vehicle in the accident can be found liable. If this were to be the case, your insurance would have to pay for the related damage up to your insurance policy cap ($10,000 or less for a basic policy). It is also possible for the financial loss of paying any veterinary fees, burial fees, and potentially also the cost of a new pet if a death has occurred to be your responsibility.
Compensation After Hitting an Animal
It is likely that your insurance provider will pay for your vehicle damage and medical fees. Though your insurance policy coverage will determine how much money is available for you to recover in damages and losses.
A very basic insurance policy may not actually be sufficient in covering all of your necessary costs. However, our personal injury lawyers can examine your policy and guide you through it to help you understand the damages you could recover. This would be in relation to:
- Medical bills and/or rehabilitation fees.
- Loss of wages and further impacts on future earnings.
- Damage to property.
Our team of personal injury lawyers will also review the details of your case to decide if a separate party has contributed to your accident with an animal. This can be in the form of poorly maintained road surfaces that affect your control of the vehicle or poor lighting of the road, lessening your visibility, for example. It may also be possible for our legal team to determine another party was instead liable for the accident involving an animal. This would then provide another method of seeking compensation and mean you would not be completely at fault for hitting the animal.
The Claims Process and Relevant Time Limits
If the insurer does not cooperate and is offering you a low settlement figure, you may be able to bring a lawsuit against the insurer. In the State of Florida, Florida Statute 95.11 usually allows up to four years to file a personal injury lawsuit. However, if our lawyers find that the at-fault party was a government agency, then the time is greatly shortened.
Though, why risk not having your case heard in court? If this were to happen, any chance of receiving compensation has just been entirely diminished. We recommend getting in contact with an experienced attorney as soon as possible so that they can handle your case.
In addition to this, if you require medical treatment after a car accident with an animal, then you must seek it within two weeks of the accident. Otherwise, you will potentially be affecting your settlement value, as per Florida Statute 627.736.
How Much Would an Attorney Cost Me?
The Law Place attorneys act on a specific contingency basis, and we promise there are no surprise upfront costs if you do select us to be your legal representative. Upon your settlement, all necessary fees will only then be deducted when your case has succeeded. In the unlikely case that your claim has not been successful, then all fees will be dropped, and you do not have to pay anything.
The contingency work we do is overseen by the State Bar Association of Florida. Here at The Law Place, we abide by all guidelines and regulations set by The Bar as these rules are in place to guarantee fair treatment and better our attorney-client relationships. If you wish to better understand our fee system, please feel free to organize a free consultation with a lawyer from our team today.
Contact a Lawyer at The Law Place Today!
If you have recently been in a car accident involving a domestic, wild, or livestock animal in the State of Florida that wasn’t your fault, then contact The Law Place today! Our AVVO 10.0 rated lawyers will be delighted to review and handle your case, with their top priority being the justice you deserve and a guaranteed friendly attorney-client relationship. Our law firm can offer a free consultation with an attorney on our team, in which you will have a chance to learn more about the legalities surrounding your case. This is a no-obligation meeting, so if you decide not to carry on with your case, then there will be no hidden costs.
We understand the trauma of some accidents can be very challenging to get over, especially when they involve animals. Contact our office today to schedule a free case evaluation with a trusted lawyer from our team, who can help you move on from this tragic incident. We are available 24/7 at (941) 444-4444.