Can You Get A Ticket For Hitting A Deer?
Instances of car-deer accidents in Michigan are not uncommon. One report notes that more than 5,200 crashes took place in 2021, resulting in property damage and injuries. These accidents occur for several reasons, including limited visibility at dusk and dawn, when deer tend to travel most often. During rutting season, bucks may chase does onto the road and may ignore the dangerous presence of vehicles because of their mating drive.
If you hit a deer or become involved in an accident with another vehicle because of the presence of deer and receive a citation, you may want to contact an attorney to not only fight the ticket for you but to also help you gain compensation for medical bills and damages not covered by insurance. You may also have a variety of questions regarding the aftermath of a car-deer accident, and an attorney can provide you with peace of mind regarding the legal aspect of such a case.
Why Do Car-Deer Accidents Happen?
Most car accidents involving deer occur mostly in the fall when bucks and does mate. This time of year, which is known as rutting season, can cause bucks to act with great energy and even aggression in pursuit of females, which is why many car-deer accidents occur between October and December. However, you may find a deer in the roadway for several other reasons, including:
- Crossing roads to reach grazing fields
- Escape from predators, such as coyotes
- Fleeing from perceived danger
Because deer are prey animals, their first instinct when danger appears is to flee, alone or in groups. Sometimes, accidents involving deer occur because drivers avoided hitting one deer only to strike one or more several yards down the road because does usually travel together for safety. You can decrease the risk of striking a deer by reducing your speed during times and locations where deer travel, paying attention to deer crossing signs and if you see a deer standing on the side of the road, you can assume more are nearby, likely hiding in stands of trees as they wait to cross the road.
If you do hit a deer, knowing how to proceed can help you stay calm before help arrives.
How To React After Hitting a Deer
Hitting a deer can be a frightening experience, especially if it happens suddenly. White-tailed deer, the most common species involved in car accidents, can run as fast as 30 mph and change direction quickly, which makes them difficult to avoid once they dash across your path. If you do hit a deer, take the following three immediate steps:
- Guide your vehicle to a safe spot
- Turn off your engine
- Take stock of yourself and your passengers
If your car took severe damage in the accident and you cannot move it, seek a safe place from which to call the police. Do not try to assist an injured deer, as they may defend themselves by kicking or using their antlers. An injured deer will likely panic, and although witnessing an animal’s suffering is not easy, allowing the authorities to handle it can help keep you safe. If the deer got up and fled before you could act further, taking photos of any prints left behind can help prove that a deer caused your accident.
Alerting the Authorities
Michigan law does not require that you report hitting a deer, and you may feel it is not necessary if the deer was not too injured and fled. However, reporting the accident to the police may help streamline any insurance claims you file with your provider. If the presence of deer caused an accident with another vehicle, calling the police right away is a must. You can prepare for their arrival in several ways, including:
- Having your license and registration ready to view
- Pulling your insurance cards on the provider app
- Asking your passengers to stay calm
If another vehicle struck yours because of the presence of deer, do not discuss the accident with the other driver before the police arrive. The less you say, the smaller the chance that you might accidentally incriminate yourself. Avoid social media as well, at least in the context of your accident, because anything you say online might also incriminate you. Contact loved ones if you wish to let them know about the wreck, but avoid making any statements or photos public before talking to an attorney.
Speaking To the Police
When the police arrive, they will likely take statements from everyone at the scene and collect witness accounts for the police report. If the deer is gravely injured, the police may call a local animal services official to end the deer’s life as humanely as possible. The reporting officer may take a variety of factors into account when examining the scene of the accident, including:
- The presence of skid marks on the road
- The damage to both vehicles
- Witness accounts
Depending on the evidence the police find at the scene, they may issue you a citation. Some accidents involving deer are usually unavoidable; however, you may receive a ticket if the police conclude that your actions contributed to the collision that caused damage or injury to any other drivers.
You may receive a citation at the scene of a car-deer accident if an officer believes any actions you took behind the wheel contributed to the accident. While Michigan is a no-fault state, which means that insurance coverage pays for medical bills and lost wages no matter who caused the accident, reporting police officials may issue citations for speeding, unsafe lane changes or for texting or talking on a cell phone behind the wheel.
You may feel that receiving any kind of citation is unfair because the sudden appearance of deer in the road is not something anyone can control. Contacting an attorney who can fight for you in court may allow for the dismissal of a ticket, especially if you act right away.
Speaking To an Attorney
You can find an attorney who suits your needs either by reading reviews for local lawyers online or by asking friends and family if they can offer any referrals. Once you find an attorney to work with, the process may begin with a review of the accident. Remember to avoid embellishments and present the details clearly. If you were injured as a result of the accident, a police report can fill in details you might not recall.
You can also present the insurance company’s report to your attorney, which may assist him or her in reducing or dismissing the charges against you. For example, if the police officer at the scene believes that skid marks indicate how fast you were traveling, an insurance adjuster’s expertise regarding those marks may prove otherwise.
Get Legal Help Today
A car-deer accident can change your life in a heartbeat and result in citations that you may not be able to fight on your own. At Mike Morse Law Firm, we understand the stress and anxiety this type of incident can cause and how the implications of one or more citations may make the situation worse. Contact our office today and speak to one of our experienced attorneys so you can resolve these matters and get back behind the wheel as soon as possible.