Thoughts on deer-car collisions
The 2016 deer hunting season in California comes to an end November 16. It’s a good opportunity to ponder the relationship between deer, motor vehicles and personal injury law.
Deer hunting season coincides with deer mating season
One reason that deer-automobile collisions increase is that autumn coincides with the animals’ mating season. Deer take chances they would not take in a normal state of mind. When deer are in rut, they don’t look both ways before crossing.
This past month, an incident occurred in the Ozarks in which a driver struck a deer and the deer managed to open the car door and commence kicking the driver.
This past week, a twin-engine plane taking off in Pennsylvania had to make an emergency landing after striking a deer on the runway. The pilot learned what wildlife biologists, hunters and insurers have known for years – collisions with white-tail deer increase during the animals’ mating season.
Deer-car collisions can be very serious
Across the U.S., deer-vehicle collisions lead to about 200 human deaths and every year. About 70 percent of deer-crash fatalities involve motorcycles. In deer-car crashes, people are protected. In deer-motorcycle crashes, riders are as likely to die as the deer.
Are deer-car crash injuries compensable?
If you have comprehensive coverage – not collision insurance — on your car insurance policy, damage to your car is probably covered. You must actually strike the deer, however, to collect on this coverage. If you veer away from the deer and hit a tree, you are probably not covered. Most insurance policies include medical expenses from this kind of collision – but you must read the fine print.
Fortunately, California is not a leading state for deer population. (The leading state for this kind of accident is West Virginia.)
But we catch many creatures in our high beams at night, especially on winding roads. A good reminder to watch the road – something may be waiting for you.