Wildlife causes more accidents than you might expect. Even more, a deer, a moose, or even an opossum, can cause an accident that leads to fatal injuries. Most of the time, these types of auto accidents in Washington State are single-car accidents, but sometimes they can result in multi-car collisions. In any scenario, if you are injured, you may be entitled to compensation. Much of the latter depends on the facts and circumstances of the case.
At Law Offices of Paul L. Schneiderman, our auto accident attorney in Washington State will review your case and advise you of your best legal options. Sometimes, that might mean a first-party claim or a third-party claim. Other times, that might mean a lawsuit. Contact us today at 206-464-1952 to schedule a Free Consultation and get answers to your questions.
How Wildlife Causes Vehicle Accidents in Washington State
Wildlife running onto the road and into the path of oncoming traffic can pose a significant hazard to drivers.
Hitting a larger animal such as a deer, bear, or coyote can cause extensive damage to your vehicle, as well as injuries to you and your passengers. Small animals such as turtles, skunks, raccoons, and birds can startle you while driving, causing you to take evasive action resulting in an accident.
Even if you avoid hitting an animal by braking suddenly, the car behind could rear-end your car and injure you. So, as you can see, wildlife can cause auto accidents, and they often do.
Common Injuries from Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions in Washington State
Injuries can range anywhere from barely any harm to fatalities. That said, given how we respond to wildlife on the road, there are common injuries that result from wildlife-vehicle collisions. These injuries include:
- Lacerations to the face, head, or neck as a result of shattered glass
- Whiplash from the impact of hitting a larger animal or from a driver rear-ending you after you've braked suddenly
- Psychological issues arising from the trauma of the collision
Although rare, wildlife collisions can also cause the death of a driver or passengers in a vehicle.
Secondary to this, a collision with a wild animal––particularly a larger one––can cause extensive damage to your vehicle.
Liability for Wildlife-Vehicle Accidents in Washington State
When wildlife on the road causes damage to a car or injuries to a driver or passengers, typically no one is at fault. After all, no owner can be held responsible for nature.
Responsibility for any damages to a vehicle or injuries from hitting an animal, therefore, typically lies with the driver and their insurance.
However, in situations where a driver swerves to avoid wildlife and hits another car, cyclist, or pedestrian, the driver may be found at fault for the accident. Similarly, in situations where a driver rear-ends another vehicle, that driver is typically at fault even though the other motorist stopped abruptly due to wildlife.
In some situations, a government agency or the owner of an animal can be liable.
Remedies in Washington State for Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions
When no one is at fault for a wildlife-vehicle collision, the only way to get compensation for any injuries or damage to your vehicle is through insurance. The extent to which you're covered depends on the type of insurance you have.
In fault-based states, for damages to your vehicle as a result of hitting wildlife, you'll typically need to have comprehensive insurance. This is usually an optional form of insurance. Comprehensive insurance, however, covers more than damage due to a collision (e.g., theft). Another optional form of auto insurance is referred to as collision, where only damage caused by a collision with an object or another vehicle is covered.
If you sustain an injury as a result of hitting an animal, your personal injury protection (PIP) or medical payments should cover this. Like comprehensive insurance, PIP or medical payments coverage is often optional unless you live in a fault-based state. So if you don't have them, you'll have to cover these costs on your own. If you have health insurance, though, you can get coverage so long as your healthcare covers it.
In situations where you swerve to avoid wildlife and hit another car, you will likely be at fault for the accident. This means the injured party can make a third-party claim to your insurer. On the other hand, if the other driver was the one swerving to miss an animal and struck your vehicle, then you would – if in a fault-based state – file a third-party claim with their insurer. Liability insurance covers the cost of property damage and injuries to third parties in these circumstances and is compulsory in most fault-based states.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in Washington State Today
If you have been involved in a wildlife-vehicle collision, you may be entitled to compensation. To know more about it and what exactly are your options, contact our auto accident attorney in Washington State today either by using our online form or by calling our office at 206-464-1952. Wildlife-vehicle collisions can be traumatic, so making sure you get fair and just compensation to thoroughly heal is important.