Animals, whether they are domesticated pets or wildlife, are unpredictable by nature. They may run out onto the road with no warning, sometimes while a car is headed straight for them. So what should drivers do if that happens—or if they cannot stop in time and end up hitting the animal?
If possible, drivers reacting to animals in the road should brake slowly and continue driving on their route. Swerving to avoid the animal should be avoided, as this may cause the driver to hit other vehicles and people, which then becomes a much more serious situation.
If the vehicle does not come to a stop before hitting the animal, unfortunately, there may be little the driver can do. The minimum car insurance drivers need to carry in Indiana does not cover car crashes involving an animal.
In order to get coverage for these types of accidents, a driver must carry comprehensive insurance, which can add hundreds of dollars to a car insurance policy over the course of a year. For those that do carry comprehensive insurance, the damage will still need to cost more than the deductible on the insurance policy in order to claim accident benefits.
When comprehensive insurance is carried and the damage will be more than the deductible the driver will have to pay, it is a good idea to file a police report. Not only will it alert the local authorities that there is an animal on the road that needs to be removed, they will also file a report that can provide verification for the insurance company in the future.
If the animal was wild, comprehensive insurance covering the damage is a driver’s best bet. However, if the animal was a domestic animal such as a cat or dog, the case usually plays out a little differently. If there is damage to the car or any serious injury such as whiplash sustained while trying to avoid hitting the animal, the animal’s owner can be held responsible for paying compensation for those damages.
While Indiana does not have any statewide leash laws, most cities and counties do mandate that animals must be restrained at all times. in most cases, it is irrelevant if the animal was on the owner’s property or public property at the time.
Unfortunately, in many cases, there may be little recourse for drivers who get into a car crash caused by an animal in Indiana. For drivers who live in rural areas or have other reasons to be particularly concerned about the issue, comprehensive insurance is the best way to protect themselves in the event of an accident.