Do You Have to Report If You Hit a Deer?
The beauty and wildlife throughout many parts of New York can be breathtaking. However, a sudden collision with wildlife can be a serious risk to your health and cause enormous damage to your vehicle. Vehicle collisions with deer are commonplace. In fact, New York State Police reported more than 1,000 collisions between vehicles and deer in 2018 alone. Given the frequency with which these accidents occur, it is helpful to understand what should be done following a collision. You might be surprised to learn that reporting a crash with a deer is mandatory in some situations.
New York Accident Reporting Requirements
Under New York state law, only certain accidents must be reported. This applies not only to collisions between two vehicles but also in one-car collisions involving fixed objects or wildlife. When you hit a deer, you face the same reporting requirements as if you were involved in a fender bender. There are two circumstances where reporting a crash is mandatory:
- When the damage to the vehicle is more than $1,000, or
- When someone suffers a bodily injury.
While this may sound like reporting is often not required, the reality is that a collision with a deer will almost always result in more than $1,000 damage. Even minor vehicle bodywork can cost that much, and the potential cost could be far more if the deer struck the windshield or damaged the underside of the vehicle.
Injuries are not uncommon in these accidents, either. Many drivers reflexively swerve to avoid a deer. However, it is not uncommon for a driver to not only strike a deer but also crash into a tree or other fixed object afterward. In many cases, a collision with a deer could result in severe injury.
In these cases, it is usually best to dial 911. Not only will this alert law enforcement to a potential injury, it will also trigger the filing of a police report about the crash. In addition to providing a report, dialing 911 and calling the police to the scene will help you meet your notice requirement. That said, you have 10 days under state law to report the accident following the date the collision occurs.
Consequences of Not Reporting an Accident
Unfortunately, the failure to report an accident is a criminal offense under state law. When the accident involves a bodily injury or death, the consequences of a failure to report an accident could involve steep fines or even jail time.
What to Do After Hitting a Deer with your Vehicle
Before you worry about meeting the notice requirements under state law, your first step should be to ensure you and your passengers are safe. As long as no one in your vehicle is in peril, it is important to move out of the roadway and onto the shoulder, if possible.
From there, assess the nature of the damage and your injuries. If no one in the vehicle is injured and the damage to the front bumper seems minor, there is no need to report anything to law enforcement. However, if you or a passenger are injured or your vehicle has sustained serious damage, you must inform law enforcement as soon as you are able to do so. Complying with these rules can keep you from running afoul of the law and provide your insurance carrier with helpful reports.
How an Accident Attorney can Help
If you are involved in a collision with a deer or other animal, the damage to your vehicle could be significant. Regardless of the circumstances of the crash, you might benefit from the assistance of a car accident attorney in New York. At Douglas and London, we can assist you with the process of recovering compensation for your accident. If another person is responsible for causing you to collide with a deer, we can help you pursue a negligence claim against the responsible party. Even if there were no other motorists present, we can work with your insurance company to ensure you receive fair compensation. Call right away to schedule an initial consultation to discuss your options.