What to Do if You Hit a Deer
- – A wounded or dead deer on the road is a hazard for other drivers and can cause additional crashes
- – Police can remove the dead deer or call a vet to euthanize a wounded deer humanely
- – You are not legally required to report a deer crash, but it is often in your best interest to do so
Even skilled drivers have trouble avoiding deer on the roads due to the unpredictability of deer movements, as a hidden deer may jump out in front of a vehicle with little to no warning. While there is plenty of advice on how to avoid hitting animals on the road, most drivers aren’t familiar with how to deal with the aftermath of colliding with a deer.
When faced with a damaged car and a wounded or dead deer, it is important to keep calm and follow basic steps to ensure your safety. Drivers who aren’t sure of what safety steps to take should immediately contact the authorities for medical and law enforcement assistance.
Read on to see what to do if you hit a deer and what auto insurance coverages you should have for animal collisions.
What should you do if you hit a deer?
As with any accident, your first priority should be safety. Check for injuries to people in the car, and then move the car to a safe location, and then call the authorities if necessary.
Read on for a detailed explanation of what to do if you hit a deer.
Check for Injuries and Move the Vehicle to a Safe Location
The most important step to take before doing anything else is to move the vehicle to a safe location.
Put on your hazard lights to make yourself more visible to other drivers and pull off on the side of the road. This may not be possible if your car isn’t driveable or you are injured, so take a minute to assess the situation. However, you should immediately put on your hazard lights for visibility, regardless of whether or not you move the car.
Do not attempt to move the vehicle if the car has severe damage, the car seems to be in danger of catching fire, or if the deer is stuck in the windshield. Instead, exit the vehicle and stay a safe distance away from both the road and the vehicle.
Make sure to check the car for obvious signs of significant damage that would make the car dangerous to drive, such as:
- Dripping oil
- Popped tires
- Hood that won’t latch
- Shattered windows
If you have any doubts about your car’s ability to drive, it is best to call a towing company. Even if the car seems driveable, there may be damage you can’t see that driving the vehicle will only make worse.
Call the Appropriate Authorities
If anyone is injured, your first call should be for an ambulance. If anyone is seriously injured beyond a few cuts or bruises, do not attempt to move that injured person as they could have serious injuries that aren’t readily apparent.
If no one is injured but another person’s property is damaged, call the local police. Damages can include everything from another car to a mailbox. You should also call the police if the deer is injured or has collapsed in a place where it can be a hazard to other drivers.
It is important to note that if the deer is alive and suffering, you are not allowed to euthanize it yourself, as this is illegal. Instead, call the authorities and let them deal with the injured animal. You should also keep a safe distance from the deer, as an injured deer may lash out and cause injuries with its hooves or antlers.
Document the Crash Scene
If you call the police, they will be able to document any damages or injuries, which can be vital for filing an insurance claim later. If you haven’t called the police because damages are minor, you should still snap pictures of the damages and crash scene, as well as any injuries.
If other drivers were involved, make sure to collect their information and take pictures of the damages. It’s important to note that any time more than one vehicle is involved in a crash, it’s vital to call the police. Police reports can help settle any insurance disputes or driver disputes that may come up later.
Check Your Insurance Coverage
Unfortunately, your insurance may not always cover a deer collision. Most drivers believe that because they have basic collision insurance, a deer accident will be covered.
Any collision with a deer will be covered under comprehensive insurance, which is additional coverage for natural disasters, theft, vandalism, animal collisions, and so on.
Because not every state requires comprehensive insurance for vehicles, it’s important to check that you have this coverage.
How common is it to hit a deer? It is very common to hit a deer, especially if a driver lives in one of the worst states for animal collisions. But since it is not required, not all drivers will add it. If you don’t purchase comprehensive insurance before hitting a deer, your insurer won’t cover your claim, leaving you with an expensive bill.
File a Claim
If you do have comprehensive coverage, the final and last step is to contact your insurance company. Then follow the steps for filing an accident claim. This is where having a great deal of evidence collected can prove useful in making sure your claim is successful.
Often, insurance companies have simple claim processes that you can complete from a mobile app on your phone. Most insurance companies will be in touch with drivers within a day or two of filing a claim to verify the information and start the process of approving a claim.
Some drivers may also worry that hitting a deer will cause their insurance rates to go up and are reluctant to file claims. However, it’s not the driver’s fault in most cases, so while it will go on your claims history, it usually won’t affect your insurance rates. If you want to double-check before calling your insurance company, take a look at our list of companies that don’t penalize you if an accident isn’t your fault.
Does hitting a deer go on your driving record?
It’s common to worry that hitting a deer will go on your driving record. It may or may not, depending on the situation. If police come to the scene and discover the accident was easily avoidable, the driver may be accused of negligent driving.
For example, a driver may have fallen asleep at the wheel and crashed into a deer. Or, if a driver is under the influence of a substance, they will be accused of impaired driving. In the majority of cases, however, hitting a deer will not impact your driving record in any way.
Don’t let fear of your driving record or insurance rates prevent you from calling authorities, especially if the deer is injured, as authorities can properly help the animal and prevent it from suffering further.
Another major concern drivers have is if it is illegal to hit a deer and drive off. It’s not illegal to hit a deer and drive off, but contacting the authorities is always the best option. Not only can they end the animal’s suffering, but they can move the deer if it is creating a driving hazard. The last thing you want is another driver crashing because of the dead deer you left lying in the middle of the road.
What to Do If You Hit a Deer: The Bottom Line
Hitting a deer can be a scary and traumatic experience. Staying calm and following basic safety steps ensures the best outcome. If ever in doubt about what to do after an accident, call authorities. They deal with deer accidents on a daily basis and can guide you through what to do to keep yourself safe.
If you find your rates go up after hitting a deer or you don’t have the right coverage, don’t panic. Drivers who want to find new auto insurance after hitting a deer can shop around at local companies to find an auto insurance company that has the right rates and coverages for them.