Matthew B. Troutman
Can You make a personal injury claim if you are injured in a car accident caused by a deer?
I receive several calls during a normal year from people injured in accidents caused by wild deer and I have to tell them that they cannot make a claim for pain and suffering because there is no insurance to make a claim against. If an accident is caused by a domestic animal or one owned by a human, then a claim can be made against the human for failing to contain their animal. Over the years, I have made successful claim agains the owners of horses and livestock that escape their owner's property. Also, I have made a claim against a dog owner when a dog attacked a motorcyclist on a country road. These claims can be made against the owners of dogs and cats and livestock because the owner's home owners policy of insurance will normally cover these claims. For whatever reason, insurance companies have written their auto insurance policies to not provide coverage for accidents caused by wild animals.
Although a claim cannot be made for pain and suffering caused by a wild animal, the person injured in an auto accident caused by the animal can make a claim for PIP benefits under their auto policy. PIP benefits are $10,000.00 (can be more if your have purchased added PIP benefits) of insurance to pay for medical expenses, partial lost wage reimbursement and other reimbursable expenses. In addition to not being able to make a claim for pain and suffering caused by a wild animal not owned by a human, a claim cannot be made for damage to your vehicle. The only way to make an insurance claim for the damage to your auto, motorcycle or truck is to have purchased collision insurance on your own auto policy.
If you are ever involved in a auto accident with an animal that you think may have an owner, it is important to take a picture of the animal and to contain it if possible, because if the animal cannot be identified and traced to a human owner, then you will not be able to make a claim for your property damage or for pain and suffering.