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A car crossed over the centerline of Greensburg Road in Taylor County around 8 p.m., Thursday, March 7, 2019 and struck another car killing on and injuring three others. According to a Taylor County Sheriff’s deputy at the scene, a vehicle hit a deer that ran out in the road, and then the vehicle swerved into the westbound lanes of Greenburg Road striking another vehicle.

The driver of the car that hit the dear died at the scene, and the driver and two passengers of the second car were taken to a local hospital with serious injuries. The sheriff’s office says that the accident is still under investigation.

Deer-Vehicle Crashes

It’s estimated that there are over 1.2 million “deer-vehicle” accidents, which include all animals that are hit by cars. Though there are no firm numbers, the vast majority of animal-car crashes involve deer. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, each year around 200 people die in deer accidents, and these accident account for around $1 billion in property damage.

Most of the deaths and the majority of the severe damage happens after the collision with the animal when the vehicle runs off the road or into another car. In many cases, the deer are slightly hit or missed completely as the driver swerves to avoid hitting the animal and then crashes into something else.

Secondary Deer-Vehicle Crashes

These secondary deer-vehicle crashes can end in a variety of crashes. Some of the most common are:

  • Rollover: A sudden severe swerve can cause a car to flip over.
  • Head-on Collision: Many times the car that hits or nearly hits a dear will cross over the centerline and hit another car head-on.
  • Other vehicle: Not all secondary collisions are head-on, but many do include another vehicle. In some cases the second vehicle will swerve to miss the first vehicle which can result in a crash.
  • Culvert/Ditch/Cliff: Most deer crashes are in rural areas on highways with narrow or even no shoulders, and the vehicles will run off the road causing severe damage.

Liability for Deer-Vehicle Crashes

In most of these, the deer is “at-fault” however since insurance companies don’t have deer for clients, then the liability for the crash won’t rest on their shoulders. This means that it will likely fall on one of the drivers.

Single-Car Crashes

If the deer causes a vehicle to hit something else or roll over, then the liability can rest on the driver of the car. This may seem unfair as swerving to avoid a deer can seem like a pretty normal reaction. However, courts will often find the driver of the car negligent and on the hook for any damages.

This means that if someone is a passenger in a single-car deer accident, then the driver of the car will pay for the damages. Ultimately it’s up to a jury to decide who was negligent, and though rare, it is possible that the jury won’t consider a driver who swerved to miss a dear negligent for other injuries and damage caused.

Multiple-Car Crashes

The same holds for other vehicles who are struck by the first car or maybe swerve themselves to avoid the first car, the driver of the car that first hits the deer and hits something/someone else will usually be considered at fault.

Again, it may not seem like it’s the driver’s fault, but the law allows the jury to consider that someone was negligent when they swerved their car to avoid a collision and collided with another car.

Property-Only Crashes

In some of these crashes, no one is injured and only property is damaged. In a common scenario, the driver of a car swerves to miss a deer and hits a fence or parked car and does damage. In this case, the damage done to the driver’s car will be paid for by that driver’s insurance company if the policy has collision coverage for that car.

Many people don’t get collision on an older car because it’s not worth it. The same insurance company, however, will pay for all damages under the driver’s liability provision of the policy. By law, Kentucky, like all others except New Hampshire, require drivers to have at least liability insurance for any damage or personal injury caused by the driver.

Do I need an Attorney?

While money alone does not put make the person whole again, dealing with the physical and emotional aspects of a traumatic accident is made more difficult as the financial losses add up creating more anxiety and stress. Many victims of these accidents wonder if they need to get an attorney. In most cases, the answer is yes. You need to understand your rights and what you are entitled to under the law so you can make the best decision.

Call the attorneys at Kaufman & Stigger, PLLC, and they will stand behind you to make sure that you are treated fairly and that you get the highest compensation allowed by the law.