Few things are quite as scary as the experience of seeing a deer or other animal on the side of the road while driving your car or truck, knowing it is headed right into your lane. If you're lucky, you will see it in time to adjust your speed and can avoid a collision. If you aren't so lucky, hitting the animal can result in serious damage to both your vehicle and its occupants.

According to Defenders of Wildlife , there are between 725,000 - 1.5 million vehicle-wildlife collisions every year in the United States resulting in more than a billion dollars of property damage and killing more than 200 people annually. And, most accidents occur in the month of November. That's because deer mating season in North America is generally from late October into early December, so the animals are more active during that time.

The most serious injuries and damage in vehicle-wildlife collisions actually occur because people swerve to try to avoid hitting the animal, which can result in hitting other vehicles or fixed objects like trees. It's actually statistically safer to hit a deer than trying to avoid it at the last second.

Steps to Take After a Vehicle-Wildlife Collision

If you end up hitting a deer, moose, hog, elk or other animal with your car, here are some tips and recommended next steps:

  1. Pull over. Hitting an animal can be a very nerve-wracking experience. You are probably going to be shaken, so it's important to pull to the side of the road right away. Turn on your emergency flashers. If you need to exit your car, be sure to watch for oncoming traffic before doing so.
  2. Contact the police. If there was any property damage (including to your car) or if anyone was injured, you will need to report the accident to the nearest police department, so call 911. Let the dispatcher know if the animal you hit is blocking traffic, which could create a hazard for other vehicles on the road.
  3. Notify your insurance company. The next call you should make is to your insurance company, to notify them of the accident and the damage, even if you don't have comprehensive or collision coverage on your vehicle.
  4. Document the accident. If you feel you are able to do so, now is a good time to take pictures of the accident scene, including the roadway, surroundings, damage to your vehicle and any injuries you or your passengers sustained. Get contact information and take statements from anyone who witnessed the accident, whenever possible. All of this information can help with an insurance claim.
  5. Don't approach a wounded animal. If the deer or other animal you hit was not killed, use extreme caution, especially if you exited your vehicle. Wounded animals can be very unpredictable, and could seriously injure you if you get too close to it. Even if you think the deer is dead, experts advise against trying to touch it or move it yourself; leave that to the professionals. It is also illegal to try to claim the carcass for its meat without having a permit, so be sure you work with law enforcement to get the proper permit in place before doing so.
  6. Don't assume your car is drivable. At this stage, the full extent of the damage to your vehicle probably isn't known. Things to look for before trying to drive it away include any signs of leaking fluid, broken lights, damage to your tires, parts that are loose or hanging, problems closing your hood and any other type of hazard. If there is any question about whether your car will get you where you need to go, it's always best to call a tow truck.

Will Insurance Cover a Vehicle-Wildlife Collision?

Will Insurance Cover a Vehicle Wildlife Collision? When you report the accident to your insurance company, your agent will review your policy to determine whether the damage to your vehicle is covered under your auto insurance.

Generally speaking, if you have comprehensive coverage and hit the animal with your vehicle, the damage will be covered, subject to your policy deductible. If you swerve to avoid hitting the animal and instead hit another vehicle or a tree (or other stationary object), collision coverage would be needed to repair your car, subject to applicable deductibles.

Can a Vehicle-Wildlife Collision Result In a Total Loss?

Hitting a deer (or any animal of significant size) with your vehicle can result in some serious levels of damage to your car. When your car is declared a “total loss” (or totaled) by your insurance company it means it cannot be repaired or the repair costs outweigh the value of the vehicle.

Once a vehicle is declared a total loss, you have a couple of options:

  1. Agree - You accept the insurance company’s decision and relinquish your car to them. They provide an insurance payout equal to the value of the vehicle pre-accident (minus your deductible), before selling your car at an auction.
  2. Disagree - You don’t accept the insurance company’s decision and keep your car. Now, you take on the repair costs in order to get the vehicle back to an operable condition. Alternatively, you find a buyer who will purchase it for more than the insurance company was planning to pay.

What you decide to do with your totaled vehicle after you hit a deer is completely on you. Whether you want a route with the least effort or one that’s a little more difficult, but might yield a greater reward is all dependent on how much heavy lifting (figuratively, but maybe literally as well) you’re willing to do.

Consider Selling Your Damaged Vehicle

If you don't have insurance coverage for the damage, or if paying the deductible for your policy and filing a claim doesn't make sense, consider selling your damaged vehicle to DamagedCars.com.

Hitting a deer or other animal can cause significant damage to your car, but DamagedCars.com buys vehicles in any condition, offering fair-market value and no towing costs. We will pay you on the spot for your damaged vehicle, whether it's drivable or not!

Hitting a deer can be stressful; dealing with your damaged car shouldn't be. Get a guaranteed offer online today in minutes, or call us at 1.877.877.7911 to get started, and find out how easy it can be to sell your car after an encounter with a deer or other animal.

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Is Hitting An Animal An Animal With A Car An At-Fault Accident?

Hitting an animal with your vehicle is typically a no-fault accident. Hitting a domesticated animal, however, may be the owner’s fault if they failed to restrain their animal. Should you hit an animal while breaking a traffic law, you may be partially at fault for the accident.

What Animals Are You Legally Required To Report If You Hit Them With Your Car?

You are legally required to notify the police if you hit any of the following animals with your car:

  • Dogs
  • Pigs
  • Cattle
  • Horses
  • Sheep
  • Goats
  • Donkeys/Mules

You are not legally required to stop and notify the authorities if you hit a cat. However, if the cat is still alive (and has a chance of survival), you can move them to safety and/or take them to a vet.

Is Hitting A Deer Considered An “Act Of God?”

Normally, hitting something while driving is covered under collision. However, hitting a deer is considered a comprehensive claim because it’s an unexpected variable and falls under the umbrella of “act of god.”