- What should I do if I accidentally hit an animal while driving?
- What to do if you hit a dog
- What to do if you hit a cat
- What to do if you hit a cow or other farmyard animal
- What to do if you hit a deer, bird or other wild animal
- Will hitting an animal while driving affect my car insurance?
- Tips to avoid hitting an animal while driving
- Frequently asked questions
If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of hitting an animal while driving, it’s important to stay calm and follow these steps.
What should I do if I accidentally hit an animal while driving?
If you accidentally hit an animal while driving, it can be a distressing experience. Here are the steps you should take to handle the situation responsibly:
Stay calm and ensure your safety
Slow down and come to a safe stop, keeping in mind the safety of yourself and other road users. Turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers.
Assess the situation
Take a moment to assess the condition of the animal and determine if it is injured or deceased. Be cautious, as injured animals may be frightened or aggressive. Do not approach or handle the animal unless it is safe to do so.
Contact the appropriate authorities
If the animal is injured, contact the relevant animal welfare organisation in your area, such as the RSPCA, SSPCA, or USPCA. They can provide guidance on how to handle the situation and may recommend a local veterinarian for treatment. If the accident involved livestock or a domestic pet, try to locate the owner if it is safe and feasible.
Report the incident
In some cases, you may need to report the accident to the police, especially if there is significant damage to your vehicle or if the animal poses a hazard to other road users. Follow the instructions provided by the authorities and provide them with accurate details of the incident.
Clear the road if possible
If the animal is deceased and it is safe to do so, move it from the road to prevent obstruction and potential hazards for other drivers. Be cautious when handling the animal and use gloves or a suitable barrier if necessary.
Assess your vehicle for damage
After ensuring your safety and addressing the welfare of the animal, assess your vehicle for any damages. Check for any signs of damage or issues that may affect its drivability. If you notice any significant damage, it may be necessary to contact your insurance provider and report the incident.
Remember, it’s crucial to act responsibly and in accordance with the law when dealing with an animal-related accident. Taking these steps will help ensure the well-being of the animal and the safety of yourself and others on the road.
What to do if you hit a dog
If you hit a dog while driving, it’s important to take the following steps:
Ensure your safety
Find a safe place to pull over and stop. Turn on your hazard lights to warn other drivers.
Contact the police
According to the Road Traffic Act of 1988, it is a legal requirement to report an accident involving a dog to the police. Call the non-emergency police number and provide them with all the necessary details of the incident.
Inform the dog’s owner
If the dog’s owner is present at the scene, inform them that you have contacted the police. Provide them with your name and address, as well as the vehicle owner’s details if different.
Check for identification
If it is safe to do so, check the dog’s collar for a contact phone number. Contact the owner and inform them about the accident. If there is no collar or identification, report the incident to the police who can take the necessary steps to locate the owner.
Be cautious of your surroundings
While attending to the situation, be aware of your surroundings and watch out for other vehicles. Your safety should always be a priority.
Generally, the dog’s owner is responsible for any damage caused by their pet running into the road. Rule 56 of the Highway Code prohibits letting a dog out on the road unsupervised or off a lead. However, liability may be subject to individual circumstances and local regulations.
Remember, it is crucial to follow legal requirements and act responsibly when involved in an accident with a dog.
Reporting the incident to the police ensures proper documentation and helps in addressing any liability or legal issues that may arise.
What to do if you hit a cat
If you hit a cat while driving, follow these steps:
Ensure your safety
Find a safe place to pull over and stop. Turn on your hazard lights to warn other drivers.
Check the cat’s condition
If the cat is injured but alive, and it is safe for you to do so, carefully approach the cat. If you are comfortable handling it, gently place it in a secure carrier or wrap it in a blanket or towel. Take it to a local vet for immediate medical attention. Inform the vet that you are not the owner of the cat.
Look for identification
Check the cat’s collar for any tags or identification. If there is a contact number, call the owner and inform them about the accident and the location of their cat. If the cat is microchipped, the vet may be able to scan for the chip and contact the owner.
Notify local authorities
While not mandatory in all areas, it is advisable to contact the local animal control or non-emergency police number to report the incident. They can provide guidance and assist in locating the owner if necessary.
Spread the word
If the owner cannot be immediately identified, take a clear photo of the cat and consider creating posters to place around the neighbourhood. You can also post on local online forums or social media groups to increase the chances of reaching the cat’s owner.
Remember to approach the situation with care and prioritize the safety and well-being of yourself and the cat. Prompt action and efforts to locate the owner can help ensure the cat receives the necessary care and support.
What to do if you hit a cow or other farmyard animal
If you hit a cow or other farmyard animal while driving, follow these steps:
Ensure your safety
Find a safe place to pull over and stop. Turn on your hazard lights and use a warning triangle to alert other drivers of the potential hazard. Be cautious of oncoming traffic and ensure you are not obstructing the road.
Check for injuries
Assess the condition of the animal and determine if it requires immediate medical attention. If the animal is injured or in distress, contact the local authorities or animal control to report the incident and request assistance. They will be able to provide guidance and contact the owner of the animal.
File a police report
In accordance with the law, you must file a police report if you hit any domesticated or farm animals, including:
- Cows or cattle
- Donkeys or mules
Take photographs of the scene, including any damage to your vehicle and the surrounding area. If possible, document the condition of the animal and any visible signs of negligence or inadequate containment measures, such as open gates or broken fences.
Notify the animal’s owner
If the owner of the animal can be identified or located, inform them of the accident and provide them with your insurance information. They may need to assess the situation and arrange for the animal’s care or removal from the road.
Cooperate with authorities and insurance
Follow any instructions given by the police or animal control regarding the incident. Contact your insurance provider to report the accident and provide them with the necessary details. They will guide you through the claims process and advise on any potential coverage for damages to your vehicle.
Remember, safety should always be your top priority. Be cautious when dealing with injured or distressed animals and seek professional assistance whenever necessary.
What to do if you hit a deer, bird or other wild animal
If you hit a deer, bird, or other wild animal while driving, here’s what you should do:
Ensure your safety
Find a safe place to pull over and stop. Turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers and be cautious of traffic around you. Make sure you are not obstructing the road or creating a hazard.
Assess the situation
Determine if the animal is injured or poses a risk to other drivers. If the animal is severely injured and in immediate distress, contact the local authorities or animal control for assistance. They will be able to provide guidance and ensure the animal receives appropriate care.
Contact wildlife organizations
If the animal is a protected or endangered species, or if you are concerned about its well-being, contact the relevant wildlife organisations in your area. In the UK, you can contact the RSPCA, SSPCA (Scotland), or USPCA (Northern Ireland) for advice and assistance.
If you are able to approach the animal safely, assess its condition and provide accurate details to the wildlife organizations. This information can help them determine the best course of action for the injured animal.
Consider transporting small animals
If you hit a smaller animal like a bird or hedgehog and it is injured but not severely, you may consider safely transporting it to a local vet or wildlife rehabilitation centre. Check with wildlife organisations for advice on how to handle and transport the animal properly.
Follow local regulations
Familiarise yourself with the local laws and regulations regarding reporting wildlife accidents. While it may not be mandatory to report incidents involving wild animals, it is always recommended to notify the appropriate authorities or organisations if you believe the injured animal poses a risk to others or if it is a protected species.
Remember to prioritise your safety and the safety of others when dealing with wildlife accidents. Always exercise caution and seek professional assistance when needed.
Will hitting an animal while driving affect my car insurance?
When it comes to hitting an animal while driving, it’s generally a good idea to inform your insurance provider, even if you don’t plan on making a claim. The terms and conditions of your insurance policy may require you to report all incidents, including those involving animals.
While reporting the incident to your car insurance company won’t automatically result in an increase in premiums, it’s important to keep them informed for several reasons.
- First, they can provide guidance on the appropriate steps to take following the accident.
- Second, they may need the information for record-keeping purposes.
- Lastly, if there is any damage to your vehicle or a need for repairs, your insurance provider can advise you on how to proceed.
It’s worth noting that insurance policies can vary, so it’s essential to review the specific terms and conditions of your policy or consult with your insurance provider to understand their requirements in cases involving animal accidents.
By keeping them informed, you ensure that you are fulfilling your obligations as a policyholder and maintaining transparency with your insurer.
Tips to avoid hitting an animal while driving
To improve your chances of avoiding collisions with animals while driving, it’s important to take extra precautions and follow these tips:
Adhere to the speed limit
Stay within the legal speed limit at all times, as excessive speed reduces your reaction time and makes it harder to avoid sudden encounters with animals.
Be aware of wildlife signs
Pay attention to road signs indicating areas with a higher risk of wildlife crossings. These signs serve as a warning to be extra cautious and alert.
Exercise caution during high-risk times
Be particularly cautious during dawn and dusk when many animals are more active, and visibility can be reduced. Exercise increased vigilance and reduce your speed accordingly.
Watch out for residential areas
Be especially attentive in residential areas where pets may wander onto the road unexpectedly. Slow down and be prepared to react if you see pets or other domestic animals near the roadway.
Ensure your lights are working
Regularly check that all your vehicle’s lights, including headlights and brake lights, are in proper working order. Good visibility is crucial in spotting animals and allowing other drivers to see your vehicle.
Maintain a safe following distance
Keep a safe distance from the vehicle ahead, especially in areas prone to wildlife crossings or wildlife corridors. This provides you with more time to react and brake if an animal suddenly appears on the road.
Use high-beam headlights when appropriate
On rural roads with no oncoming traffic, switch to high-beam headlights to improve visibility and increase your chances of spotting animals at night.
Be extra cautious during the deer-rutting season
During the deer mating season, which typically occurs between September and early November, deer may be more active and prone to sudden movements. Exercise increased caution and be prepared for encounters with deer, especially in rural areas.
Remember, if you fail to adhere to the rules of the road or ignore local signs, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to make an insurance claim for any resulting damage. So, always drive responsibly and respect the guidelines in place to ensure your safety and the well-being of wildlife.
Frequently asked questions
If you come across a deceased animal on the road, it is important to take appropriate action. Here’s what you should do if you find a dead animal:
Report it to the local council: Contact your local council or animal control department to inform them about the presence of the deceased animal. They will be responsible for removing the carcass and ensuring the road is safe for other drivers.
Provide details: When reporting the dead animal, provide specific information such as the location of the animal, the type of animal, and any identifiable features. This will help the authorities in locating and addressing the situation promptly.
Take caution while driving: If you encounter a dead animal while driving, exercise caution to avoid any potential hazards. Slow down and remain alert, especially if the animal is large or the road conditions require extra attention.
Do not attempt to move the animal: It is generally advised not to attempt to move the dead animal yourself, as it may pose health and safety risks. Leave the handling to the appropriate authorities who are trained in dealing with such situations.
By promptly reporting the presence of a deceased animal, you contribute to maintaining road safety and ensuring the proper handling and removal of the animal’s remains.
Cats are not covered under the reporting requirements of the Road Traffic Act of 1988 due to their classification as domestic pets rather than working animals.
The Act specifically includes provisions for reporting accidents involving dogs and certain farmyard animals due to their status as animals that may be used for specific purposes or activities.
While the law does not mandate reporting accidents involving cats, it is still advisable to take appropriate action if you hit a cat while driving. This includes stopping safely, checking on the welfare of the cat if possible, and attempting to locate the owner through any available identification tags or microchips.
Additionally, you may choose to inform the local authorities or animal welfare organisations about the incident to ensure proper care and attention for the injured animal.
Although there might not be a legal obligation to report accidents involving cats, it is always important to exercise caution and compassion when encountering any animal on the road to minimise harm and ensure their well-being.
Whether or not you can claim on your car insurance for damage caused by hitting an animal will depend on the specific circumstances and the coverage provided by your policy. It is advisable to contact your insurance provider to discuss the situation and clarify any uncertainties.
In some cases, comprehensive car insurance policies may cover damage caused by hitting an animal. However, certain factors such as the type of animal, the extent of the damage, and the terms and conditions of your policy will be considered when determining the eligibility for a claim.
Even if you do not intend to make a claim, it is still important to inform your insurance provider about the incident and log it in their records. This helps ensure that you are in compliance with the terms of your policy and allows the insurance company to provide guidance and support as needed.
It’s worth noting that insurance policies can vary, so it is essential to review the details of your specific policy or consult with your insurance provider directly for accurate information regarding coverage for accidents involving animals.
When making an insurance claim for accidents involving animals, it is important to gather sufficient evidence to support your case. Here are some key pieces of evidence you should try to collect:
Photos: Take pictures of the accident scene, including the location, road conditions, any damage to your vehicle, and any visible signs of the animal involved. These photos can provide visual evidence and help recreate the circumstances of the incident.
Surroundings: Document any relevant details in the surroundings, such as broken fences, open gates, or signs indicating the presence of animals. This information can help establish liability or indicate that the animal had escaped from a nearby property.
Witnesses: If there were witnesses present at the scene, try to obtain their contact information. Witness statements can provide valuable accounts of the incident and support your claim.
Dashboard camera footage: If you have a dashboard camera installed in your vehicle, check if it recorded the accident. Back up the footage as soon as possible, as it may provide additional evidence of the event.
By collecting these pieces of evidence, you can provide a clear and comprehensive account of the accident to your insurance provider. This information can help expedite the claims process and increase the likelihood of a successful outcome.
Remember to consult with your insurance provider for specific guidance on what evidence they require for accidents involving animals.
Determining liability in accidents caused while trying to avoid hitting an animal can be complex and depends on the specific circumstances.
However, if you take sudden evasive actions, such as slamming on the brakes, making an emergency stop, or swerving to avoid hitting an animal, and as a result, you cause a collision or damage to other vehicles, you may be held liable for the resulting damages or injuries.
In general, drivers have a duty of care to operate their vehicles safely and adhere to the rules of the road. Sudden and erratic manoeuvres can potentially endanger other road users and contribute to accidents.
Therefore, if it is determined that your actions while trying to avoid the animal directly led to the collision or damage, you could be considered at fault.
It’s essential to prioritise safety and exercise caution when encountering animals on the road. Maintain control of your vehicle, brake smoothly and steadily, and avoid making drastic manoeuvres unless absolutely necessary and safe to do so.
If you find yourself in a situation where avoiding the animal becomes challenging, prioritise the safety of yourself and others on the road.
Ultimately, liability assessments are often made on a case-by-case basis, considering various factors such as road conditions, speed, visibility, and the actions of other drivers involved.
If you are uncertain about your liability in a specific situation, it is recommended to consult with your insurance provider or seek legal advice to understand your rights and obligations.