As the population of the US has become denser over the last few generations, residential and business areas are closer than ever to farms and livestock breeding facilities. Inevitably, automobiles are going to meet with animals in a less than pleasant fashion. What happens if you are injured in a car crash due to livestock in the middle of the asphalt? Can you sue the owner? Read on to find out.
Who Owns the Animal?
The first thing that must be determined before you can assign fault for the accident is who owns the animal? That might be harder than you think. If it's not an animal you recognize or one with a brand, you may have to canvas the area farms or riding stables to find out.
Did the Animal Cause the Accident?
Once the ownership of the animal has been discovered, it must be determined if the animal caused the accident. Of course, if you saw the animal in advance and proceeded to drive at full speed anyway, you would be at fault. But in most cases like these, the driver has done their best to avoid a collision.
Even so, in some states, animals have the right of way. You have to prove the cow or horse actually caused the accident by, for example, charging your car or acting in a similar aggressive manner. If you are ever in a situation where a large animal threatens your vehicle, try to capture it on your mobile phone as evidence.
Who Is Responsible?
Let's say the animal, according to your state laws, did cause the accident. Is the animal's owner responsible? Maybe or maybe not.
Some states have strict criteria that you, as the plaintiff in a lawsuit, must meet to prove fault. In cases where, say, the owner of an exotic cat rescue knowingly left a hole in the fence, and his tiger met with your SUV, the law is clearly on your side. But with horses, cattle, and other less dangerous animals raised these days (sheep, goats, turkeys, alpacas, geese, etc.), it's harder to prove that the owner put you in danger even by ignoring open gates or fencing breaches.
What Should You Do After Such an Accident?
The ambiguity of the law in vehicle/livestock cases is such that it makes sense to call an personal injury attorney if you are injured in an accident as described above. If you are hurt in an accident or if heaven forbid, there is a fatality, a car crash attorney can help you
- make up lost wages
- pay funeral expenses
- pay medical expenses
- win conscious pain and suffering damages, if someone in the accident initially survived but died later
If you are in a serious accident, especially one involving a death, it's best to call an attorney immediately, before you even speak to your insurance agent. You don't want to inadvertently give a statement to the insurance company that could contradict evidence putting the animal's owner at fault.
Unfortunately, many state laws regarding livestock in the roads are from the days when few people owned cars. Litigation was more concerned with lost property, like shrubs or crops, not people. An experienced personal injury attorney knows the fine points of your state laws and can help you get what's due if the animal was at fault and the owner was responsible.Share