Who Is at Fault When Hitting an Animal With Your Car?

May 10, 2022
Who Is at Fault When Hitting an Animal With Your Car?

Hitting an animal is one of the murkiest waters to delve through because each case has different factors. It can depend on the accident's circumstances, where the accident happened, and the type of animal hit, among other things.

Filing an insurance claim with your insurer can also be lengthy as they will take all these factors into account in order to determine fault when hitting an animal with your car. You can contact a car accident lawyer to help you collect evidence and decide the best way to move forward with your case.

What Animals Are Involved in Accidents?

There are three main types of animals that one can accidentally hit. These are domestic animals, livestock, and wild animals.

Domesticated Animals

Domesticated animals live at a residence. These are animals such as dogs and cats. In many cases where domestic animals are involved, the owner is often at fault. This is because the animal's owner is responsible for its safety and should secure or restrain them. If the owner fails to do this and an accident occurs, they can be legally liable for the accident.


Much like domesticated animals, the owner can also be held liable if their livestock gets hit by a car. Some laws require livestock owners to restrain their animals, keeping them on their property and restricting their access to public roads. There may also be some contributory negligence in livestock and domesticated animal accidents. You can consult an attorney to help you determine how much (if any) fault lies with you.

Wild Animals

Wild animals tend to roam free and are often unpredictable. You will most likely not be seen as responsible for the accident if they suddenly dash in front of your car. There isn't much you can do to stop yourself from hitting the animal.

However, there might be different laws per state on animal accidents, and the best way to find out which ones apply to your case is to talk to a lawyer. 

What Should You Do After Hitting an Animal?

Although you might not know what to do after hitting an animal, it is often advised not to flee the scene. The most important thing is to check on the animal and ensure it is okay and determine whether it is wild, domestic, or livestock. Then, you can find out if you can get the animal help and notify the authorities. It is illegal in many states to commit a hit and run involving a pet.

Make a call to your local police station and inform them of the accident. They will create a police report showing details of the accident and the animal you hit. It is not a requirement to report the accident to the police with most insurance companies, but you should do it regardless. Reporting the accident provides you with legal documentation that you can use when the insurance company shows reluctance in dealing with your case.

The police will also ensure that they find and inform the animal's owner if it is a domesticated animal or livestock. This makes it easier for you to pursue compensation from the owner for the damage caused by the accident if needed.

What Insurance Covers Animal Accidents?

There are different types of insurance coverage, depending on your policy. One such example is comprehensive insurance which covers damages to a vehicle from unpredictable events, such as hitting a wild animal.

Having comprehensive insurance on your vehicle ensures that your insurer will help pay to fix your car. However, this coverage mainly applies to wild animals, and the policy might not cover domesticated animals. Having a lawyer by your side will help you determine what your insurance policy covers and how to proceed with your insurance claims.

In cases of domesticated or livestock animals, your chances of compensation may be less likely. No one will be at fault in states where livestock can roam free. If the animal lives in a state where leashes are necessary, such as Florida, the owner is often at fault. You can check with your state's laws to help you determine who is at fault.

What Damages Can You Recover?

You cannot recover any damages in cases involving wild animals as it is a no-fault accident. Your insurance provider can use comprehensive insurance coverage to pay for your damages, if applicable. 

On the other hand, if you hit a domesticated animal, the owner is often responsible for paying your damages, including the cost of repairing your car.

You may also be able to receive compensation if you have bodily injuries from the accident. You can consult a personal injury lawyer to help you understand what additional damages you can recover, depending on your case.

Contact Dolman Law Group to Help You Determine Who Is at Fault Hitting an Animal With Your Car

Animal accident cases are challenging. Our attorneys are here to offer expertise and guidance for the duration of your case. Contact us today to discuss your case.