Who Pays For The Car Damage From A Deer Collision?
There are about 50,000 vehicle-deer collisions in Michigan every year. Michigan is the fourth most likely state in the United States for an automobile collision with a deer. Accidents with deer cost U.S. drivers $10 billion in property damage and cause 59,000 injuries and 440 deaths every year. Who pays for the damage to your car when you hit a deer?
Who Pays for Damage To Your Car When You Hit a Deer?
Michigan insurance companies consider collisions with deer to be comprehensive claims. If you purchased comprehensive coverage on your vehicle, your auto insurance will cover the cost of the damage to your vehicle less your deductible.
Comprehensive coverage is optional coverage, so if you did not elect to purchase it, you will need to pay for the repair costs yourself. Additionally, if you elect to purchase towing and rental car coverage, your policy may cover the cost to tow your vehicle to a shop and rent a car while the shop is repairing your vehicle.
Who Pays for Injuries Caused by Collisions With Deer?
Michigan law requires every vehicle owner to purchase no-fault insurance that includes Personal Injury Protection coverage. However, the limits of this coverage vary according to what you select on your policy.
If a collision with a deer causes injuries to you or your passengers, the Personal Injury Protection coverage on your auto insurance pays for all reasonably necessary medical expenses. If your injuries cause you to miss work, your PIP coverage also pays for lost wages up to 85% of what you would have earned, for up to three years. However, this coverage is subject to limits.
Your PIP coverage may also cover medical transportation costs, household replacement services and attendant care if you have a serious injury that causes you to need help with personal care. You must apply for no-fault benefits within one year of the accident.
These no-fault benefits are usually paid for by the insurance policy of the injured person. However, if the injured person does not have their own policy, the injured person’s spouse’s insurer or the insurer of a family member who lives in the same home may pay the benefits. If no policy is available through any of these sources, the injured person can file a claim with the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan.
Michigan Assigned Claims Plan
The state administers the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan to pay no-fault PIP benefits for people injured in auto accidents who do not have insurance coverage. MACP PIP medical benefits have a coverage limit of $250,000.
What Happens If Someone Dies in a Collision With a Deer?
The dependents of a person who dies in a deer collision may be able to receive no-fault survivor’s loss benefits from the deceased person’s auto insurance. These benefits are available for the first three years after the date of the accident to help replace the financial support that families would have received from the person who died. The current maximum benefit is $6,615 per month.
Can You Get Compensation for Pain and Suffering Because of a Deer Collision?
PIP only covers economic damages due to injuries. Compensation for pain and suffering is only available in accidents where someone else’s negligence resulted in injuries.
What If You Swerve To Avoid a Deer and Hit Another Car?
Generally, if you swerve to avoid a deer and collide with an object, person or another vehicle, your collision coverage will cover the damage to your vehicle less your deductible. Collision coverage is optional coverage, so if you did not elect this coverage, you will need to pay for the damage yourself. Your PIP coverage will still cover injuries to you or your passengers.
If the accident happened in Michigan, the other driver’s no-fault insurance will pay for the damages to the other driver’s vehicle and any injuries caused by the accident. However, you may be responsible for paying for serious injuries, deaths or permanent disfigurement. You may also be liable for damages if you cause an accident in another state or with a vehicle that isn’t registered in Michigan.
Additionally, you may be liable for up to $1,000 in property damage that isn’t covered by insurance. Your insurance policy may cover amounts you are legally obligated to pay up to the limits of your policy.
How Can You Avoid Accidents With Deer?
There are several steps you can take to reduce your chance of a collision with a deer.
Avoid driving when you are tired or intoxicated. Always be aware of your surroundings.
Watch for Herds
Deer often travel in groups. If you see a deer, there may be several more that you cannot see. If a deer enters the roadway, watch for more deer and proceed cautiously once the road is clear in case more deer attempt to cross.
Drive the speed limit. Slow down when driving through areas where deer are common. Use your high beams to see the road better and watch for headlight reflections in deer’s eyes.
Choose a Color Vehicle Deer Can See
Deer do not have the same color perception as humans. This is why hunters can wear blaze orange for safety without scaring off the deer they are hunting. However, deer can see blue and white which may reduce the chance of a collision with these colored vehicles. By contrast, dark colors are difficult for deer to see which may lead to more collisions with dark-colored vehicles.
Do Not Rely on Deer Whistles
Some people swear by their deer whistles, but researchers say there is no scientific evidence that these devices work. Install a whistle if you think it helps, but do not let it make you careless.
Avoid High-Risk Times
When possible, avoid driving at dusk or dawn when accidents are most likely to happen. Be extra cautious when driving in October through December when deer accidents are most frequent.
Do Not Swerve
Your natural reaction may be to swerve to attempt to avoid a deer but doing so can cause you to collide with an object or another vehicle. Instead, brake firmly and continue to drive straight.
What Should You Do If You Hit a Deer?
First, check yourself and your passengers for injuries. Call 911 if anyone needs medical attention. If you can drive your car, pull it off the road as far as you can and turn your hazard lights on.
Call the police. The law doesn’t require you to file a police report, but it may be helpful when it comes time to file an insurance claim. Once everyone is safe, contact your insurance company to file a claim for your property damage and injuries that result from the accident. If you want to process the deer for meat, you can apply for a free salvage permit with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
What If Someone Else Injures You in a Deer Accident?
If someone else swerves into your vehicle while trying to avoid a deer and causes serious injuries, you may need the help of an experienced Michigan Car Accident Lawyer. The car accident attorneys at the Mike Morse Law Firm dedicate themselves to helping accident victims get the justice they deserve. Contact us today at (855) 645-3946.