What Should I Do if I Hit a Deer With My Car?

Being involved in a collision with a deer isn’t just scary, it can be dangerous and costly. Many Texans are unsure of what steps to take in the aftermath of a deer accident.

This guide will provide you with information on what to do if you hit a deer with your car in Texas, ensuring your safety and helping you navigate through the necessary legal and insurance procedures.

Male mule deer attempting to cross the road in Yosemite Valley in early morning - Deer accident lawyers

What to Do If A Deer Jumps in Front of Your Car

If a deer suddenly jumps in front of your moving vehicle, your reactions can significantly influence the outcome of the situation.

  • Stay Calm:  Remain calm and avoid any abrupt maneuvers that could destabilize your vehicle.
  • Honk Your Horn:  A short, sharp blast of your car’s horn may scare the deer away and clear your path.
  • Brake in Your Lane:  Brake firmly and maintain your lane.
  • Do Not Swerve:  Swerving could lead to a more hazardous collision with other vehicles or obstacles on the roadside.
  • If Unavoidable, Hit the Deer:  If a collision seems inevitable, it’s safer to hit the deer rather than swerving to avoid a deer accident.
  • Get to Safety:  Once your vehicle has stopped, move it to a safe location off the roadway if possible, and turn on your hazard lights.

Always keep your seatbelt on to reduce the risk of injury in case of a deer accident. Remember, your safety comes first.

What To Do After Hitting a Deer or Other Wildlife With Your Car

After the collision with a deer or other wildlife, your actions can ensure your safety and protect your interests. Here are the necessary steps to follow:

  1. Ensure Safety:  Check for injuries to yourself and passengers. If anyone is injured, call 911 immediately.
  2. Move the Vehicle:  If possible, move your vehicle to a safe location off the road to prevent further accidents.
  3. Notify Authorities:  Call the local police or game warden to report the deer accident. You can also contact Texas Parks and Wildlife at (512) 389-4800, or search for a wildlife rehabilitator if the animal is still alive.
  4. Document the Incident:  Take photographs of the accident scene, your vehicle, and any visible injuries. This can be useful for insurance purposes and making a claim after your deer accident.
  5. Report to Insurance:  Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to report the deer accident. Provide them with the information and evidence gathered.
  6. Don’t Touch the Animal:  It’s important not to touch the injured or dead animal. An injured animal can be dangerous, and as can moving a dead one off a highway.
  7. Arrange Vehicle Inspection or Repair:  Get your vehicle inspected for any property damages that may not be visible to the naked eye. If necessary, arrange for repair or towing of your vehicle.

Tips For Avoiding A Collision With Wild Animals

In the state of Texas, we share our roads with a diverse range of wildlife. This presents unique challenges for drivers, who must always be prepared for a potential encounter with a deer or other wild animals on the road.

Here are some proven tips to help you avoid a collision with wildlife in Texas:

  • Drive in the Center Lane:  If it’s a multi-lane road, try to drive in the center lane at night for a better chance of spotting and reacting to approaching wildlife. However, the don’t drive in the passing lane, as it should be used only when it’s safe and doesn’t disrupt other traffic.
  • Stay Alert:  Regularly scan the sides of the road for any signs of wildlife, especially in areas known for high animal activity. Always keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.
  • Heed Warning Signs:  Pay attention to wildlife crossing signs. These are usually placed in areas known for frequent animal crossings.
  • Use High Beams When Appropriate:  High beams can illuminate a wider area and allow you to spot animals in the distance. Remember to dim your lights when another vehicle approaches.
  • Drive Carefully at Dawn and Dusk:  Many animals are most active during these times, so drive with extra caution.
  • Adhere to Speed Limits:  Respecting the speed limit gives you more time to react if an animal appears on the road.
  • Keep Your Vehicle in Good Condition:  Regular servicing and maintaining good brakes and tires can ensure swift and safe stops when necessary.
  • Avoid Distractions:  Operating a vehicle requires full attention and focus. Avoid distractions such as mobile devices, eating, or other non-driving activities while on the road.

By implementing these tips, you can contribute to the safety of all road users and help protect our state’s precious wildlife.

Deer Crossing Sign On White Background

Is It Illegal in Texas to Hit a Deer and Drive Off?

No, in Texas it’s legal to hit a deer (or any other large animal) and drive off without notifying anyone, unless you incurred vehicular property damage. Texas Transportation Code § 550.022 requires drivers involved in a collision that results in property damage to stop and remain at the scene, or at least provide information.

While this law doesn’t specifically mention deer accidents, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department encourages drivers to report all wildlife collisions to local police. Failure to report a crash involving property damage is a Class C misdemeanor if the damage is under $200, and a Class B misdemeanor if over $200.

Furthermore, it’s important to note that if you leave the scene without reporting the incident to the local police or game warden, you may not get a police report. Getting a police report can be important in dealing with insurance companies as it validates the incident and provides an official record of the event.

Hence, it’s strongly recommended to report all wildlife collisions, even if not legally required, to facilitate any subsequent insurance claims or legal issues that may arise. Remember, it’s not only about legal obligations – reporting such incidents also contributes to efforts to track and manage wildlife populations for conservation purposes.

What Insurance Covers Hitting A Deer?

If you are in a deer accident, certain types of auto insurance can help cover the costs associated with the incident. Here are the types of insurance you can utilize:

  • Comprehensive Coverage:  This type of insurance covers damages to your vehicle from events that are considered out of your control, which includes hitting a deer or other wildlife. It can help pay for repair or replacement costs of your vehicle, provided however your car must have come into contact with the deer or other animal.
  • Collision Coverage:  While typically not applicable for wildlife collisions, collision coverage may be utilized if your vehicle hits another object, vehicle, or rolls over as a result of swerving to avoid hitting a deer.
  • Medical Payments Coverage (MedPay):  If you or your passengers are injured as a result of hitting a deer, this type of insurance can help cover medical expenses, if you elected for to have this coverage.
  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP):  PIP is an extension of car insurance that covers medical expenses and, in many cases, lost wages. It is often called “no-fault” coverage because its inherent comprehensiveness pays out claims agnostic of who is at fault in the accident.

Remember to review your insurance policy’s fine print and consult with your provider to understand what’s covered and what’s not in a car accident with deer. It’s always a good idea to keep your insurance information accessible in your vehicle.

Contact Our Deer Accident Lawyers for More Information

If you’ve recently been involved in a car accident with a deer, our skilled deer accident lawyers are here to help. We’re well-versed in the unique aspects of such cases and can offer advice in the often-confusing process of filing an insurance claim.

Call us at (844) 308-8180 or fill out our online form for more information. We’re committed to helping you navigate this challenging time and achieve the best possible outcome. Remember, your safety and legal rights are our top priority.

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Frequently Asked Questions: Car Accidents Involving Deer or Other Wildlife

What should I do if I see a deer that was hit by a car on the highway?

If you come across a deer that’s merely wounded, please get in touch with your local game warden dispatcher. If you are certain the deer has died, you can move it off the road for the Texas Department of Transportation to handle.

Can I take a deer or other wild animal that is roadkill with me?

In Texas, it is illegal to take the animal with you for any purpose, such as taxidermy or consumption. However, the roadkill laws vary by state in the United States.

Can I take the deer antlers with me?

In Texas, it is illegal to collect deer antlers from roadkill without proper authorization. Antlers, like other parts of the deer, are considered the property of the state and are protected under game laws. Violation of these regulations may result in hefty fines or even imprisonment.

Can I shoot a deer that is suffering?

In Texas, it’s illegal to shoot a deer that’s been hit by a vehicle, even if it’s suffering, without proper authorization. Firearms discharged on public roads or right-of-ways are prohibited. Instead, contact your local game warden or law enforcement officer who can humanely euthanize the animal if necessary. Always be mindful to ensure your own safety and do not attempt to approach an injured deer as they can be unpredictable and dangerous when distressed.

Can I make an injury claim if I hit a deer?

Yes, but only against your own policy. Wildlife is not owned by another individual against which you could make a claim. Conversely, accidents involving cows and other livestock may be eligible for injury claims against the owner, depending on the county in which the accident occurs.

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