What Do I Do if I Hit an Animal in New York?

New York state law requires motorists who hit an animal to stop, contact either the owner or the police, and file a report. Failing to do so can result in fines.

What New York State law requires of you

Here are three things you should do if you hit a large animal while driving:

  1. Stop: This means pulling over as soon as possible, and putting on your blinkers
  2. Notify the police: Be as specific as possible about your location—for example, on a country road, what is the closest the mile marker.
  3. Exercise caution if you decide to approach the animal: Injured animals can’t read your good intentions. They may try to scratch or bite if you come near them.

If it’s a domesticated animal– you’re not legally responsible for covering the animal’s veterinary care. However, it’s a good idea to offer such assistance if it’s within your means.

What to do if you hit a deer or other large animal

The consequences of striking an animal with your car grow exponentially if the creature is considered cattle or wildlife.

If the animal is part of a farmer’s livestock, then you have a legal and moral responsibility to notify the owner. If it is a wild animal, then you should get in touch with law enforcement.

By no means should you try to put the animal out of its misery on your own. This task is best left to others.

Dealing with damage to your vehicle

Striking a large animal can cause extensive damage to a vehicle. Here’s what to do if you find yourself in this situation:

  1. Make sure that you (and your passengers, if any) are okay: Human life comes first
  2. Contact law enforcement: Police officers are specially trained to deal with accidents involving cattle or wild creatures.
  3. Avoid contact with the animal: This is another situation in which you risk serious injury. Let the professionals handle things.
  4. Stay on the scene until emergency responders arrive: You will need to file a police report, both for the official records and to make an insurance claim.
  5. Contact your insurance company: You may also want to call for a tow truck unless you’re sure that your car is safe to drive.

“Will my insurance cover the repairs?”

If you carry comprehensive coverage, then the answer is most likely “yes.” Collision insurance by itself is intended for vehicle-on-vehicle wrecks, not for accidents involving animals. Your insurance agent can give you the details.

Recovering the costs of damages

It’s, of course, impossible to hold an animal liable for any harm done to property or people. However, you may have a case if the animal you struck was considered agricultural livestock.

Farmers or breeders are responsible for the upkeep of their animals. This includes keeping them fenced in or penned up.

This touches on complex legal matters such as liability and damages. That’s why we recommend getting in touch with a car accident lawyer in New York. Here’s how an attorney can help:

  • By advising you of your legal options: Knowing where you stand legally can help you to figure out your next move.
  • By helping you to get the compensation you deserve: Insurance companies are more likely to offer you a fair settlement if you have a law firm protecting your interests.
  • By giving you a much-needed sense of empowerment: An accident involving an animal is traumatic on multiple levels. Talking to an attorney can be the first step to putting the incident behind you and moving on with your life.

The attorneys here at Douglas and London have recovered more than $4 billion for their clients over the years, a figure which speaks for itself. Learn more about how we can help by getting in touch with us today. We’re available 24/7, and we offer free consultations.