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What Are Your Personal Injury Rights When Deer Caused an Accident?

We know it all too well driving on rural roads in the Mid-Hudson Valley: at night, deer can be your worst enemy. Even if you’re driving well below the speed limit in a well-lit area, a deer suddenly crossing the road can cause a cascade of split-second decisions and actions that result in a major scare, or worse, a serious crash.

If the crash results in injuries that cause you to miss work and have costly medical treatment, then the question becomes, who pays? The deer obviously doesn’t have insurance. In this blog post, we’ll cover the prevalence of animal-caused car crashes in the Mid-Hudson Valley of Dutchess, Orange and Ulster County in New York, and the legal remedies that may exist for you and your loved ones after a crash.

What is the prevalence of animal-caused car crashes in New York State?


As the data shows, there has been a significant increase in the number of state-wide, animal-caused car crashes in New York State over the last ten years. While the increase is somewhat less dramatic in the Mid-Hudson Valley region, this still means that there is a large number of crashes that are caused by animals in the road. About one in ten of the crashes result in personal injuries, while the rest result in property damage.

According to AAA, the Mid-Hudson Valley is a hotspot for animal-caused crashes among all of the counties in the state: Dutchess County ranks #9, Ulster County ranks #7, and Orange County is #1.

What can New York Drivers do After a Crash with a Deer or other Animals?

The first thing to remember after a crash is that New York is a “no-fault” state. From the New York State Department of Financial Services:

No-Fault, also called Personal Injury Protection (PIP), is designed to pay promptly, regardless of who is at fault or whether there was any negligence, for economic losses (meaning medical/health expenses, lost earnings, and certain other reasonable and necessary expenses related to injuries sustained), up to $50,000 per person (“basic No-Fault coverage”), to the driver and all passengers injured in your car as well as any pedestrians injured by your car, because of its use or operation in New York State.

That means that your insurance will cover your damages resulting from a crash up to $50,000.

Figuring out the question of liability in car crashes involving animals can be very complicated, and depend on many factors, such as whether the animal is wild, a personal pet (like a dog), or livestock like a horse or cow.

Drivers are expected to exercise “reasonable care” and take precautions to avoid hitting animals on the road, but liability depends on the provable specifics of the accident. But if a dog owner does not take adequate precautions in controlling their pet, and the dog causes a collision, it is possible they will be held liable for the damages.

Passengers Injured in Accidents Involving Animals

If you were a passenger injured in a car that hit a deer, you may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering. This applies even if the car was your own but driven by someone else insured under your policy. For example, if you were injured while a family member or friend was driving your car, you can file a claim against your own insurance policy.

When to Contact Mainetti & Mainetti Regarding Your Crash Involving an Animal

Whether you’re a driver or a passenger, we can help you navigate your options regarding an animal-involved car crash in Dutchess County, Orange County and Ulster County. We offer free consultations at our personal injury law offices in Kingston, NY, Poughkeepsie, NY and New Windsor NY. Contact us today.