If you are ever in an accident with an animal, you should pull over, turn on your hazard lights and call animal control or the local authorities. Injured animals often resort to aggression; it is best to let professionals deal with potentially dangerous animals. If it is safe to exit your vehicle, take photographs to document any damages.
Your insurance may cover your property damage if your policy covers animal collisions. However, if a negligent animal owner was involved, they may be liable for your property damage.
If you are in an accident with an animal, wildlife or not, you should consider calling the police. A police report will help your insurance company identify the origin of the damage you are claiming.
I Hit Somone’s Pet
The circumstances of your collision will impact the determination of fault. Fault is generally assigned to the party that acted with the most negligence or carelessness. However, both parties can have fault. For example, if you were driving negligently, (speeding; failing to stop for a stop sign; or displaying poor driving behaviors), you will be assigned some fault. However, depending on your state policy, if the owner of the animal(s) in question acted negligently, (i.e. did not have their animals properly restrained), they may have some fault. If you have any level of fault, your insurance settlement will be reduced accordingly.
In the case that you accidentally hit a pet, you should pull-over. Not only is it a courtesy to notify the pet owner, but failing to stop is a class B misdemeanor. The penalty is a fine of up to $500.00 and/or jail time. Depending on the specifics of your accident, you may face additional charges.
I’ve Been in An Accident with Wildlife
In this case, your own insurance company should cover the damages dealt to your vehicle. You will only receive coverage if you have comprehensive insurance, or if it is specified in your policy. However, if you swerve to avoid the collision, and collide with something else, you will be liable for the damages.
A Pet Was a Passenger in the Vehicle
If this is the case, you should ask the other driver if their pet was in a pet carrier while they were driving. Many owners, who travel with their pets, interact with them as they drive. If the other driver states that their animal was in a pet carrier prior to the accident, you should visually confirm that a carrier is present in their vehicle.
Furthermore, your pet should always ride in the backseat away from any airbags; as deployed airbags may cause severe injury to your pet.
If you are in an accident, and your pet, unfortunately, passes away, you may include their death in your insurance claim. However, the loss of a pet will be treated as a property loss. Additionally, if your pet sustained any injuries in an auto accident, you can include all vet bills in your settlement demand packet, in order to receive compensation for them.
Furthermore, if your pet was a show animal or a service animal; having some type of special status that elevates their value, you may receive greater compensation for any loss that occurred because of the accident.