Animals on the road

Animals on the road create a hazard which can have devastating consequences. Colliding with an animal while driving can damage your car, injure you and your passengers, and create an unsafe situation for other drivers. Such accidents are sometimes truly unavoidable, as when a deer suddenly leaps out of a culvert directly in front of your car. In other circumstances, however, if you were not exercising enough caution, you might be found responsible.

In one recent case, a driver was found to be entirely at fault for hitting a moose after the animal had crossed ahead of an oncoming car, briefly obstructing its headlights. The passenger noticed and called out a warning, but the driver did not brake. He hit the moose at full speed, and his passenger suffered significant injuries. Given the moose warning signs on the highway and the reduced visibility at dusk, the judge found that a reasonable driver would have been alerted by the briefly obscured headlights and immediately stopped or slowed to avoid the obstruction. The driver was found liable, and the passenger won compensation for her injuries.

In a similar case, a driver struck a horse and sued the horse’s owner, who had lost control of the animal and it was loose on the road. A vehicle had been dispatched to flash its headlights to warn oncoming traffic about the animal. Although she had seen this warning signal, the driver did not slow down. She was found largely responsible: the judge found that she should have proceeded with greater caution and evaluated what the signal meant, particularly given the location where deer were likely to be on the road. The owner was found only partly responsible for the accident.

Although some accidents involving animals might truly be inevitable, you are responsible for being attentive at all times. Always drive with undivided attention to the road, and be mindful of your surroundings. Distracted driving is always dangerous, and this is especially true when large animals might be present. If it is dark, the weather is bad, or the road is slippery, adjust your driving accordingly: travel at a safe speed, maintaining a safe following distance. You should be prepared to stop or slow down to avoid a collision, particularly in an area where highway signs warn of wildlife or livestock. Be alert to the possibility of a driver ahead of you swerving or stopping suddenly to avoid an animal.

If you were hurt in a motor vehicle accident involving an animal in the road, whether as the driver or a passenger, the team of experienced ICBC lawyers at John Mickelson Law Corporation can help ensure you receive full compensation for your injuries. Call us today at 604.684.0040 for your free consultation at our Vancouver or Surrey offices.

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