Car Accidents Caused by Deer in Virginia
Fall might be a beautiful season in Virginia, but there is a serious danger that is heightened during this time of year – collisions between deer and vehicles. These animals may be majestic and fun to watch grazing in your backyard, but accidents involving deer can cause severe injury and even death.
There are over 1.3 million deer crashes each year in the United States, according to the latest figures from State Farm. Tragically, these lead to roughly 10,000 serious injuries, 200 fatalities, and more than $1 billion in property damage. The odds of striking a deer are one in 167, and Virginia ranks 12th in the nation in deer-related crashes.
According to a recent study by the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHTSA), the chances of a crash with a deer are on the rise due to overpopulation and deforestation. In 1930, there were roughly 300,000 white-tailed deer in the U.S. Today, the population exceeds 30 million, and these animals don’t know the rules of the road or have insurance coverage.
Deer-Vehicle Crashes and Injuries to Passengers
If you were a passenger in a vehicle that hit a deer and suffered serious injury, you may have rights to recovery. Some drivers hit large animals while speeding, driving recklessly, or cause another accident while swerving into oncoming traffic. While no one wants to bring a claim against a friend, they have an insurance policy for a reason.
Accidents Involving Other Vehicles
Most experts agree that, when a deer appears on the roadway, you should reduce your speed but stay in your lane. Unfortunately, too many drivers fail to heed this advice, and this can make matters much worse.
If a driver swerves into your lane because of a deer, they can turn what would have been a fender-bender with an animal into a head-on collision with a car or truck. In some cases, distracted drivers behind someone slowing down to avoid an animal collision slam into the back of a vehicle, causing serious injuries.
Expect Your Claim to Be Denied
If you make a claim against the negligent party’s insurance company, there is a good chance that it could be denied as soon as they learn that there was a deer involved. Of course, “the deer was to blame.” As mentioned earlier, you can’t file a claim against a deer, and they don’t carry insurance coverage.
Virginia follows the contributory negligence doctrine, meaning an ounce of blame in your corner means you could be barred from recovering damages from the parties that were substantially responsible for your harm. Insurance companies may try to assert that you are somehow at fault, but it’s important to remember that they are not on your side. If this happens, it’s vital that you speak with a knowledgeable attorney about your options.
Avoiding an Accident with a Deer
The safest option is to avoid any type of large animal collision, but these are becoming more common. Deer are most active from October through December and will be even more lively at night. Some of the best tips for avoiding one of these dangerous crashes include:
- Use extra caution when driving at dusk, in the early evening, and just before sunrise.
- Try to avoid poorly-lit and rural roadways.
- Note where you’ve spotted deer on the roadway in the past.
- Reduce your speed near heavy vegetation, streams and rivers, and areas where deer are known to be active.
- Use high-beams to make the edges of the road visible.
- Know that where there is one deer, there are usually others.
- Always wear your seatbelt.
- If a collision is imminent, avoid swerving off the road or into oncoming traffic. Instead, let off the gas and hold the wheel steady.
Speak with a Qualified Virginia Car Accident Attorney
A crash involving a large animal is anything but straightforward. Sure, everyone would like to blame the deer. It’s true that the accident may not have happened if the deer weren’t present, but other factors could have caused your injuries.
If you or someone you love has been involved in one of these crashes, another party could be responsible for your damages. At Buck, Toscano & Tereskerz, we will conduct an independent investigation of your accident and may even bring in an accident reconstruction specialist to sort out issues of fault.
Our experienced personal injury attorneys have considerable experience in all types of car accident cases, and we’ll advise you on how to best proceed with your claim. Contact our office today at (434) 977-7977 or reach out to us online to schedule a free consultation.