If there’s one thing you absolutely can’t control, it’s nature – including and especially the actions of wildlife. As we’ve taken over their natural habitat, building housing and roads, deer are now more visible than ever in our habitat. Because of that, you see deer everywhere, on your lawn, even prancing down or across the road, and while deer are generally amazing and beautiful creatures to see, having an accident involving one can be frightening, damaging, and even life threatening. Here are a few pointers as to what to do if you hit a deer.
What to Do if You See a Deer
If you are lucky enough to see a deer before hitting it, slow down as much as possible before possible impact. It may not stop the collision from happening, but it may minimize the damage to your vehicle and injuries to you and your passengers. Also note, deer are rarely alone and that seeing one deer usually means there are more in the area; so if you see one, be alert for others following.
What to Do if an Accident is Inevitable
A lot of people aren’t lucky enough to see a deer in time to take action – they are incredibly quick and most of these accidents take mere seconds. If you do see the deer and know you are going to collide, again, try to slow the car down as much as possible. Whatever you do, DO NOT swerve your car. You have a greater possibility of severe damage and/or bodily injury if you veer into oncoming traffic or off the road where you may hit a tree or pole. Always remember: Never veer, hit the deer.
Even if you have windshield damage from the impact, keep your hands on your wheel and hit your brakes as firmly as possible. Do your best to keep the car under control and then pull carefully to the side of the road (if possible).
What to Do After the Accident
The first thing you need to do is call the police. Even if there are no injuries, you want a formal police report to use when you file a claim with your insurance company. Take pictures of your entire vehicle and stay away from the deer. Animals not killed on impact can be very dangerous if approached. The police will contact the appropriate authorities if the animal is injured or dead. Wait in a safe place, off the road, for help to arrive and call for a tow truck if your car is no longer safe to drive.
Will Insurance Cover the Damages?
If you have a liability-only policy on an older vehicle, you will not have coverage for damage from hitting the deer. If you have comprehensive and collision coverage you will be covered. Accidents involving deer are considered a “comprehensive” claim and are not considered your fault. You’ll need to pay your deductible but your vehicle can be repaired without any major impact on your insurance premiums or driving record. Talk to your insurance agent to see how your policy’s coverage applies.