Missouri is home to a lot of animals. With a large farming community, cows and other livestock can wander out onto the roads and cause wrecks. Dogs and cats can also cause car accidents when they stray too far from home.
In addition to these animals, Missouri also has a large wildlife population that includes fox, geese and deer—all of which pose a risk to drivers. Coming across a large animal such as a cow or deer in the road is particularly dangerous. They weigh many tons and can cause significant injury to those in the car, as well as extensive damage to the car itself.
The first thing a driver should do if they see an animal on the road is slow down and continue driving in the lane they are supposed to be in. Most injuries caused by car crashes involving animals are the result of drivers swerving to miss the animal and instead hitting another car or running off the road.
After continuing on their route, a driver may still hit the animal in many cases. When this happens, and injury and damages occur, the driver’s options and liability following the accident both depend on the circumstances.
If the animal belonged to someone, such as a farmer or a pet owner, that owner may be responsible for paying for damages. According to Missouri Revised States Chapter 270, Section 10, all owners of animals must keep their animals restrained from running at large. If they fail to do so by letting their dog out accidentally or not repairing a fence meant to contain cattle, they could be liable and might have to pay for damages.
If, however, the animal hit was wild, the driver of the car may not have as many options. The typical car insurance policy does not cover these kinds of accidents, but the driver may be able to recoup their losses if they carry comprehensive car insurance that covers accidents not involving another vehicle. Comprehensive insurance covers fire, theft, windstorm, hail, vandalism, birds, and animals—unfortunately, many drivers do not carry it, as it can be expensive.
If a driver hits a wild animal, there is little they can do other than seek medical treatment for their injuries and get their vehicle repaired at their own expense. However, that is not necessarily the case when the animal is domesticated. In that case, someone else may be responsible for paying those expenses. Accident victims should speak to a skilled car accident lawyer in Missouri that could help them recoup their costs from the responsible party.