Who Is Liable When Livestock Causes Car Accidents?
When an animal darts in front of your car, you are forced to make a split-second decision that could have horrible consequences. If you swerve to avoid the animal, serious injury may result for you, your passengers, and people traveling in other vehicles.
It’s not a pleasant decision to make, but experienced law enforcement officers recommend against swerving to avoid an animal in the roadway. But there are cases where colliding with a large animal such as a steer causes serious injuries for drivers and their passengers, so liability in these cases may not be easy to determine.
When an accident is caused by a domesticated animal in the roadway, the animal’s owner may be held liable if they failed to make a reasonable effort to restrain it. But these cases are complicated, especially if more than one vehicle is involved, so you will definitely want to speak with an experienced Phoenix livestock car accident attorney right away.
Who’s Responsible for Your Injuries?
Encountering an animal in the roadway is a growing concern. And it can even happen in the suburbs. Drivers who come across deer, farm animals, and household pets cause thousands of accidents and billions of dollars in damages every year.
If your accident was caused by a farm animal on the road, determining liability may be difficult. According to Arizona’s contributory negligence laws, more than one party may be held liable for an accident.
When a driver swerves in an effort to avoid an animal, a lot of bad things can happen, including rollovers, driving off the road, or crashing into a tree. But colliding with a large, heavy animal may result in catastrophic injuries, so there are some cases where it may be argued that the swerving driver made the right decision.
If a farm animal is involved in a collision, the owner may bear responsibility for the accident. Unlike farmers and ranchers in other states, Arizona livestock owners are not protected by open range policies.
Livestock owners are required to secure their animals, but they may claim it’s not their fault if one gets loose. They may argue that they are not liable because they made a reasonable effort to prevent their animal from getting away.
Factors that may be used to determine liability in an accident that involves livestock on the road include:
- The number of vehicles involved
- The size of the farm animal
- If a driver swerved to avoid an animal
- Distracted driving
- Whether the livestock owner regularly checked on the location of their animals
- Whether the livestock owner took adequate precautions to secure their animals
What to Do After the Accident
If you were involved in an accident that involved any type of animal, dial 911 right away. Pull to the side of the road and check to see if anyone in your vehicle requires medical assistance. Do not try to remove the animal from the roadway yourself because you could be struck by another vehicle.
If you feel up to it, you will want to collect contact information from witnesses and other drivers. You can use your cell phone to take pictures of the animal and the accident scene but stay out of the roadway and don’t interfere with first responders.
Were You Harmed by Somebody’s Careless Behavior?
You shouldn’t have to pay your own medical bills if you were hurt by someone else’s careless behavior. The Husband & Wife Law Team will file a claim to help you collect damages from anyone whose negligence contributed to your injuries.
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Call (602) 457-6222 to schedule a FREE consultation today. You won’t owe us anything unless we win your case.
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Confidentially reviewed by Attorney Mark Breyer