Originally published January 24, 2022.

Getting into an auto accident because of an animal in the road isn’t uncommon. It’s more likely to happen in the fall and early winter when animals like deer are more active while searching for food and mating. It also gets dark earlier in that time of year, making it harder to spot animals in time to avoid a collision.

If you’ve been involved in an accident with a deer, you know the large amount of damage that can happen. Hitting a deer can wreck your car and even leave you with injuries. Swerving out of the way of an animal can cause accidents as well, either because of your car leaving the road or colliding with another vehicle.

While you can’t go after a wild deer for money to cover your repair costs and medical bills, you may be able to get compensation through your own insurance, depending on what type of coverage you purchased.

Does Insurance Cover Animal Collisions?

If you purchased comprehensive coverage from your insurance company (it is optional in Louisiana), it WILL cover accidents with deer and other animals and can help you pay for the repair or replacement of your car. Your comprehensive insurance covers damage to your vehicle caused by unpredictable acts. This includes fires, thefts, and collisions with animals like deer. However, it does not cover injuries.

For your comprehensive coverage to take effect, you must make physical contact with the deer. That means if you swerved to avoid hitting the deer and hit another vehicle or ran into a guardrail, your comprehensive coverage does NOT apply. In these instances, you’ll need to use your collision insurance coverage instead, which covers damages when you hit other objects.

How to Get Compensation after Hitting a Deer

After your accident, you will have to file a claim with your insurance company. You may have to pay a deductible to access your insurance coverage. Deductibles vary by policy and are the out-of-pocket expenses you’re required to pay.

Comprehensive insurance policies have limitations on the amount they’ll pay. If your max limit is low, it may not cover all your expenses.

If you don’t have comprehensive car insurance coverage, you will be unable to receive any compensation at all for the damage from the deer strike. That is why we always recommend purchasing at least some comprehensive coverage if you can afford to do so.

Why Buy MedPay Insurance

Comprehensive insurance doesn’t cover your injuries or ANY medical expenses that result from your animal collision. However, that doesn’t mean you are completely out of options. Drivers in Louisiana have the option to purchase medical payment coverage as part of their car insurance. This coverage, often called MedPay, covers medical expenses after your car accident.

MedPay insurance can be used to cover the cost of:

  • Fees from the ambulance and hospital
  • Imaging and blood tests needed
  • Prescription medications
  • Medical supplies, including wheelchairs
  • Your doctor’s appointments
  • Any rehabilitative services and costs

However, MedPay likely won’t cover all of your medical bills. It only provides compensation up to the coverage limits you purchased. For example, if you purchased $1,000 in MedPay coverage, then it will only cover the first $1,000 of your medical bills. MedPay really isn’t designed to cover all of your medical expenses after a car accident, and should be used in combination with your health insurance.

Louisiana drivers are not required to purchase MedPay coverage, but you may want to purchase it for extra financial protection in case of accidents.  It can be used in any type of collision, even if you’re at fault for the crash, or if you’re injured as a passenger in another person’s vehicle.

Who’s At Fault for Collisions Caused by Swerving to Avoid Deer?

Sometimes drivers need to react suddenly to avoid hitting a deer and end up hitting another vehicle as they swerve away from the animal. Unfortunately for anyone who finds themself in this situation, the driver who swerves into another car is responsible for causing the accident. They will be considered at fault under Louisiana’s comparative fault laws, and the at-fault driver could face civil lawsuits from the others involved in the crash.

The law states that all parties involved can be considered at fault if their negligent actions contributed to the accident or injury. For example, this means the swerving driver is responsible for causing the initial accident, but if the driver of the car they hit was driving distracted, they could also be partially at fault for failing to avoid the collision. This can affect how damages are awarded.

Comparative fault laws result in proportionate compensation of damages. For example, a victim could be 10% responsible for the accident but still receive compensation for their damages in a civil suit. However, the compensation the victim is awarded will be reduced by the percentage of their responsibility. A victim awarded $10,000 in damages but is 20% responsible for the crash would only receive 80% of the award.

How Dudley DeBosier Can Help

You may be facing significant financial costs and injuries after an auto accident that wasn’t your fault. Louisiana’s car insurance and comparative fault laws can make it more difficult for you to receive the compensation you need. Our experienced car accident attorneys aren’t afraid to stand up to insurance companies. We understand that every case is unique and work hard to fight on your behalf, so you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation of your case if you’ve been injured in an accident through no fault of your own.

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