Determining Liability For A Car-Livestock Crash

Posted on: 28 February 2017

An adult cow weighs thousands of pounds, which means colliding with one can cause you significant injuries and damages, not forgetting the injury inflicted on the cow. Therefore, in case you crash into a cow (or any other livestock), it's important to know who is responsible for the losses. These four questions can help you determine who should pay for the damages incurred in the accident:

Where Were You Driving?

To a large extent, the state in which you were driving will determine who is liable for the damages. In open range states, such as Colorado, livestock owners are unlikely to be held liable when their animals caused car accidents, even if they are identified. In fact, the motorist may be found liable for the injury or death of an animal that had "wandered" away from a ranch. This is because, in such places, animals are free to graze anywhere; their owners aren't obligated to enclose them in specific locations.

How Did the Animal Get There?

In some places, you may be entitled to compensation from the owner of the animal if you can prove that their negligence caused the accident. This is usually the case with jurisdictions where animal owners are required to fence in their animals. In such places, you may get compensation from the owner if you can prove that the fence was inadequate and the owner didn't do anything to correct the situation.

Can You Trace the Owner of the Animal?

Finding the owner of an animal that has wandered onto a highway isn't easy, especially if it's a lone animal and the herd isn't anywhere close. Sure, you can enlist the help of the police, but even that isn't guaranteed to yield good results. It's just too much work, and the police aren't likely to give it a priority, especially if the injuries involved weren't too serious. Therefore, you may end up paying for your car's damages even if you weren't responsible for the accident.

Which Coverage Do You Have?

Lastly, if the owner of the animal can't be held responsible for the damages, then the type of insurance coverage you have will determine whether your insurer covers the bill or you pay for it out of pocket. Many people assume that collision coverage pays for this type of loss, but that isn't the case. Collision coverage only pays for damages incurred when you crash into another car or object, but not animals; you need comprehensive coverage for crashes involving animals.

For more information on what kind of coverage will help you pay for damages in a car-livestock crash, contact an insurance agency, such a Sunset Insurance Agency.