South Carolina has an estimated deer population of 730,000. Unsurprisingly, they can wander onto roads from time to time. As a result, the white-tailed deer also get hit in up to 50,000 car accidents each year. That’s in South Carolina alone! Even if you are the most diligent of drivers, sometimes hitting a deer is unavoidable. So, what should you do if you get involved in a deer-vehicle collision? What legal options are available to you?

The Dangers of Deer on the Road

deerSay you’re on a relaxing family drive. Everyone is taking in the gorgeous fall foliage. Then, out of nowhere, a white-tailed deer darts onto the road. You slam on the brakes, but it’s too late. The deer isn’t moving. Should you get out and move the deer to the side of the road?

The short answer is no. Wounded animals are frightened and may react unexpectedly. Don’t put yourself in any further danger. Instead, call the police to report the accident’s location, your assessment of the deer’s condition, and other relevant information. Even if the deer is dead, it’s best to wait for the local authorities.

Deer are most active during the breeding season, especially in October and November. Almost half of the deer-vehicle collisions occur around this time of year. Most accidents also happen during dawn or dusk, because deer are moving around more at these times. It’s important to pay extra attention during these times. Sound your horn and flick your headlights if you see deer on the road. And, if you see one, you can usually expect another one nearby.

Stay alert, particularly on rural roads with frequent curves and narrow shoulders. Slow down. Keep an eye out for “deer crossing” signs. Use your high beams except when there is oncoming traffic. And while your instincts may compel you, don’t swerve if you see a deer. You may lose control and hit a tree or embankment. That’s how you could end up with severe property damage and personal injury!

Steps to Take When You Hit a Deer on the Road

Hitting a deer can be quite a shocking experience. Many steps you should take are similar to what you should do if you find yourself in any car accident. There is just the added element of the injured deer and what that may involve. Here are some of the steps you should take:

  1. Assess any injuries. Is everyone in the car okay?
  2. Turn on your emergency lights.
  3. If you can, pull over to the road shoulder.
  4. Stay away from the deer. It could move suddenly.
  5. Call the police to alert them of what happened.
  6. Get the contact and insurance information of anyone else who was involved.
  7. After the police arrive to direct traffic, take pictures of the damage and document the scene.
  8. Call your insurance company to file a report.
  9. Call a tow truck.
  10. When you get to a safe place, call your lawyer to schedule a meeting if needed.

Interestingly, drivers can keep deer for personal consumption. You need to wait for the police to arrive for their incident report. The report needs to show the deer was killed by a car and not hunted illegally.

Are You Eligible for a Personal Injury Claim?

It depends. Physical damage to your car should be covered by your car insurance policy. Any injuries sustained by passengers may not be covered. If multiple vehicles are involved, other factors can come into play. Did another car hit you after you hit the deer? Did you hit a car that didn’t pull over when they hit a deer?

The situation may not be so clear-cut. Do not accept any offer from your insurance company without sound legal advice. It is prudent to contact a South Carolina car accident attorney first. They can explain what you might deserve and clarify any questions you may have. If needed, your lawyer can talk to medical providers and complete an investigation on your behalf.

If there are any personal injuries whatsoever, you should call us to see how we can help. You and your passengers should get the medical care you need.

Christopher Pracht
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Christopher Pracht is an experienced attorney at Pracht Injury Lawyers.
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