What Happens When an Animal in the Road Contributes to Your California Injury Accident?

What Happens When an Animal in the Road Contributes to Your California Injury Accident?

Santa Barbara County is a diverse place. It has major population centers along the coast, such as Santa Barbara and Santa Maria. It also has rural areas that are home to large amounts of agriculture, which is the county’s #1 industry. In short, whether you’re talking about livestock, pets, or wildlife, Santa Barbara County has a lot of animals. For all their many benefits, animals can cause substantial problems – and damage – if they find their way onto a road or highway. If you’re hurt in a crash like this, it’s important to contact a knowledgeable Santa Barbara car accident lawyer to go over your rights and legal options.

An animal on the loose was the starting point for a local two-vehicle crash recently. A female German shepherd mix dog entered Highway 101 in Santa Barbara. The dog’s presence on the highway caused two vehicles to collide with one another just north of Milpas Street, injuring two people. (The dog escaped unscathed and was captured unharmed a half-mile away on Cacique Street.)

A vehicle accident where an animal was involved can be unnerving if you’re injured. After all, you can’t sue a dog or a cow, right? While that’s true, you may still have many potential options when it comes to securing vitally important compensation. Let’s look at a few.

#1 Other Drivers

Regardless of whether the animal was owned by someone or was wild/feral, it’s possible that your multi-vehicle animal-involved crash could involve issues of driver negligence and liability. For example, say the investigation of your crash reveals evidence indicating that an animal was in the road, and “Driver A,” after swerving to miss it, hit your vehicle, causing your injuries.

If you can unearth proof that Driver A reasonably should have seen the animal and avoided it safely but, instead, swerved erratically because he/she was speeding or was intoxicated/distracted/drowsy, then you could have a successful negligence case against that driver. The key to a case like this is developing evidence showing that a reasonably safe driver in Driver A’s shoes would have been able to maintain control of his/her vehicle, but Driver A did not because of one or more forms of negligence.

#2 Animal Owners

A car swerves to avoid a roe deer,  already lying dead on the roadside from a collision.

The law imposes on animal owners a legal obligation to keep their animals under control. That includes keeping them safely confined to the owner’s property and out of highways and roads. When the owner doesn’t – and an animal gets onto the road and causes a crash – the owner often has liability for his/her negligence. That’s true whether the animal was a pet dog who slipped out of his house or a farm cow who escaped her fence.

The key here is showing that the steps the owner took to keep the animal on his/her property were inadequate to satisfy the law's demand to keep all animals securely restrained from getting off the owner’s property.

In some scenarios, it’s possible that both an animal owner and another driver may have failed to satisfy their legal obligations and may both be liable to you. Retaining a skilled legal team who can do a complete investigation will help assess who was liable and to what extent.

#3 Insurance

Sometimes, though, none of these factors present themselves. The animal was a stray or wild. The collision involved no other drivers or, at least, no drivers who drove unreasonably given the circumstances. Even when that happens, you may still have an option, which is filing a claim with your own insurance company.

San Mateo Car accident Attorney
John N. Frye, Santa Barbara Car accident Attorney

If history is a teacher, though, getting paid a fair amount on the insurance claim you file may prove to be unduly difficult. That’s why, whether your path to recovery involves an insurance claim (or claims,) or legal action against an animal owner, driver, or both, it helps to have a tenacious legal representative on your side. Count on the diligent Santa Barbara personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos, LLP to be that representative for you and get you everything that you’re entitled to receive under the law. Contact us at 805-617-1365 or through our website to get a free case consultation today.


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