Navigating the aftermath of a car accident can be overwhelming, especially if it involves a wild animal. In the fall, your risk of involvement in a deer-vehicle collision increases due to deer mating season and shorter periods of daylight.
A 2019 study found that each year, there are roughly 440 deaths and 58,622 injuries received in deer-vehicle collisions in the U.S. A 2022 study found that hitting a deer is more likely in the 2 hours after sunset and increases after daylight savings time ends in the fall.
It’s normal to feel traumatized after hitting a deer. Knowing what to do is crucial to receiving the medical attention you may need, as well as protecting your rights if another vehicle is involved.
After colliding with a deer, your priority is to ensure the safety of yourself, any passengers, and other road users. Be safe and follow these steps after hitting a deer:
- Pull over to a safe location: As soon as the collision occurs, carefully guide your vehicle to the side of the road. Activate your hazard lights to signal to other drivers that there’s a problem. This can help prevent a secondary collision with another vehicle.
- Check for injuries: After ensuring your safety, check yourself and any passengers for injuries. If anyone has injuries from hitting the deer or from any evasive measures taken (such as if your vehicle left the road), call 911 immediately and follow their instructions for providing first aid until medical assistance arrives.
- Stay away from the deer: If the deer is still alive but injured, it may be frightened and unpredictable. Do not approach the deer, as it could pose a danger to you. Instead, leave it to trained professionals, like animal control, to handle.
Once you’ve ensured the immediate safety of yourself and any passengers, your next step after hitting a deer is to contact the relevant authorities. This is essential for documenting the incident and receiving proper guidance.
- Call the non-emergency police number: If no one was injured in the collision, dial the non-emergency number for your local police department or law enforcement agency. This number is usually different from 911 and is designated for situations that require police assistance but are not immediate emergencies.
- Provide your location: Communicate your location to the dispatcher. Provide as much detail as possible, including the name of the road, any nearby landmarks, mile markers, or highway exits.
- Describe the incident: Explain that you’ve hit a deer with your vehicle and describe the extent of the damage, whether there are injuries, and if the deer is still in the vicinity.
- Stay at the scene: Remain at the scene until law enforcement arrives unless they instruct you otherwise. The police will have the Department of Transportation come to remove the carcass or arrange for an organization to humanely take care of the injured animal.
- Ask for a police report: It’s important to request a copy of the police report. This report will document the accident details you may need when filing an insurance claim.
- Seek medical care: Even if you don’t feel injured, get checked by a medical professional after the accident. You may feel fine, but injuries like whiplash may not show up right away. Visiting your provider ensures you receive medical care and creates a record of your injuries for insurance purposes.
Properly documenting the incident after hitting a deer is crucial for several reasons, including insurance claims and potential legal matters. Take the following steps to document the collision:
- Take photos: Use your smartphone or camera to capture clear and comprehensive photos of the accident scene. Concentrate on photos of the vehicle’s position, damage to the vehicle and anyone involved, the location of the deer, road signs or landmarks, and skid marks or debris.
- Note the date and time: Record the date and time of the accident. This information is essential when reporting the incident to your insurance company and law enforcement.
- Exchange contact information with any other involved drivers: In a deer collision, more than one vehicle can be involved — for instance, if one driver swerved into another lane to avoid the deer but struck another vehicle, or was rear-ended by another vehicle after hitting the deer. If another car is involved in the crash, exchange contact information with the driver, including their name, contact, insurance, and license plate number.
- Write down your account: Jot down your account of the incident while it’s fresh in your memory. Include details such as the speed you were traveling, any evasive actions you took, and the events leading up to the collision.
- Take notes on calls with animal control or other services: If you’ve contacted animal control or any other services, including your city’s roadkill removal, make a record of when and who you spoke with.
- Keep all documents together: Store all accident documentation safely and organized. This includes photos, notes, the police report, and any correspondence with insurance companies or other parties.
After you’ve hit a deer, contact your car insurance company as soon as possible after the collision.
- Contact your insurance provider: Use the contact number on your insurance card or policy documentation to reach your insurance company’s claims department. Many insurance companies also offer a claims hotline that operates 24/7 for immediate assistance.
- Call a tow truck: Your insurance company may contact a tow truck on your behalf. If not, you may need to search for a local towing company to remove your car from the scene. Remember to follow all directions from authorities; wait to contact a tow truck until they have finished their investigation of the scene.
- Keep records: Throughout the claims process, keep detailed records of all communications with your insurance company, including the names of representatives you speak with, dates and times of conversations, and any claim-related documents.
If you or any passengers sustained injuries after a deer collision, you will likely need to file a claim with your own insurance company to pay your medical bills and vehicle repair costs.
However, if another vehicle was involved, it’s important to contact an auto injury attorney. Legal counsel can be crucial in safeguarding your rights and interests when filing a claim if liability becomes tricky to determine, such as after a deer collision.
Our attorneys, especially in regions like New Orleans and Baton Rouge, at can guide you through what to do after your collision, help you understand your insurance policy, and explain your rights if another driver is involved. Contact Dudley DeBosier for a free consultation today.
Disclaimer: This content has been reviewed by Chad Lederman, Director of Legal Operations at our New Orleans office.
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