When you hit an animal, fault depends on who owns the animal. If you hit a wild animal, like a deer, it’s generally a no-fault situation. However, if you hit a domestic animal, like a dog, the animal’s owner could be responsible.
Georgia and South Carolina Have Laws Surrounding Loose Animals
Both Georgia and South Carolina have similar laws regarding animal-involved collisions. If you hit a wild animal, no one’s responsible. Your uninsured/underinsured coverage could pay for your losses.
Matters change if you hit a domestic animal. Any unrestrained domestic animal is considered “at large.” For example, O.C.G.A. § 4-3-33 notes that livestock cannot roam free; it must remain on the owner’s land or be restrained. S.C. Ann § 47-7-120 outlines the same concept.
Failing to follow this law constitutes negligence.
What’s the Difference Between a Wild Animal, Livestock, and a Pet?
In rural areas, you’ll encounter a lot of people with unconventional pets, like ostriches, emus, and cattle. However, in the eyes of the law, here’s the difference between the three:
- A wild animal does not have an owner. This can include feral cats, wild dogs, wolves, foxes, raccoons, and possums.
- Livestock is any animal part of a commercial enterprise, usually for consumption. Examples include chickens, horses, cows, turkeys, and pigs.
- Pets are companions. Common examples include cats and dogs.
How Do You Know Who Owned the Animal?
As noted, fault for your accident depends on who owned the animal. However, at the accident scene, you might not know who it belonged to. You could identify the animal by:
- Checking its collar for its owner’s contact information
- Checking a livestock animal’s ear for an “ear tag”
- Calling animal control and checking for a microchip
- Examining the animal for any tattoos or brand marks
Our law firm can investigate your collision to determine who owned the animal. For instance, if you hit a cow crossing the road, and there’s a local dairy farm nearby, we can reasonably assume the animal came from that property.
You Generally Can’t Het “In Trouble” If You Hit an Animal
If you hit someone’s pet, they might insist that you pay for the damages. Yet, if the animal was “at large,” meaning it was not on a leash or under its owner’s control, you aren’t liable.
If the animal’s owner contests otherwise, we can defend you against any allegations.
Modified Comparative Negligence May Play a Part in Your Case
Suppose you were in an accident where, to avoid hitting an animal, you swerved and hit another driver. If it was a wild animal, this does not justify your accident. If it was someone’s pet, you could hold the animal’s owner partially responsible.
Both Georgia and South Carolina operate on modified comparative fault systems. So, multiple parties could share fault for a collision. As long as you didn’t cause most of the crash, you can still seek damages.
Proving fault in an animal-caused accident can get difficult. By partnering with our team, you can protect your legal rights and financial recovery options.
What Should You Do After You Hit an Animal?
You’re required to notify law enforcement if you hit an animal – even if it’s wild. If you don’t report the incident, even if you weren’t at fault, you could be accused of a hit-and-run.
You should also consider the following measures:
Take Pictures of Your Vehicle
Even hitting a small animal can cause serious damage. You should document your vehicle’s damage by taking photos and videos.
Notify Your Insurance Company
Even if you didn’t cause the accident, your insurer still wants to know about it. If you wait too long, it could deny your claim.
Visit a Healthcare Provider
Your collision may have resulted in “hidden injuries,” such as whiplash, spinal cord trauma, and internal bleeding. Visiting a healthcare provider does more than ensure your health; your imaging scans, lab test results, and doctors’ testimony can bolster your claim.
Document Your Injury-Related Losses
Losses pile up quickly after an accident. You should immediately document your medical bills, lost time from work, and personal testimony. Your lawyer can use this information to calculate your case’s value.
Consider Your Legal Options
Hitting an animal can get complicated – especially if you’re not sure who owned it. Negotiating with the insurance company, determining fault, and understanding your case’s value add more layers of confusion.
Our law firm has secured compensation for thousands of claimants. We can handle everything your case requires, and you pay nothing out of pocket until we secure compensation.*
Call George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers to Begin Your Free Case Review
If you suffered harm after colliding with an animal, our lawyers can provide legal aid. We can identify the animal’s owner and determine fault. Compensable losses could comprise your medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering.