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Hit An Animal In Your Car? Here’s What To Do

As a driver, you can never predict when an animal may dart in front of your car. Whether it’s a deer crossing a country road or a cat running out from behind a parked car in a residential area, hitting an animal can be a traumatic experience. However, if you have purchased GAP insurance, it may offer additional coverage for this type of situation.

When an animal collision occurs, the first step is to remain calm and pull over to a safe location, if possible. If the animal is still alive, take precautions to keep it safe and prevent it from causing further accidents. If the animal is deceased, do not attempt to move it unless necessary.

Next, assess the damage to your vehicle. Depending on the severity of the collision, you may need to call for roadside assistance or have your car towed to a repair shop. If you have GAP insurance, the cost of repairs may be covered, less any applicable deductible.

It’s also important to document the incident, especially if you plan to file an insurance claim. Take photos of the damage to your car and the animal, if possible. If there were any witnesses to the collision, obtain their contact information for future reference.

Finally, report the collision to your insurance company as soon as possible. They will guide you through the claims process and provide guidance on next steps.

While nobody wants to be involved in an animal collision, knowing how to respond and having GAP insurance can help alleviate some of the stress and financial burdens associated with this type of accident.


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Complete Safety Checks Before Exiting Your Vehicle

In the event of a road traffic accident involving an animal, it is important to note that different legal requirements apply depending on the animal’s species. To ensure that you follow the correct procedures, consider the following recommendations as soon as you become aware that you have collided with an animal while driving. Firstly, bring your vehicle to a stop as soon as it is safe to do so.

Next, turn off your engine so that you don’t contribute to any further damage or danger. It is essential to activate your hazard lights immediately, to caution other drivers that there is an obstruction from an animal on the road. Furthermore, before doing anything else, assess the condition of yourself and any passengers to ensure that you are all healthy and uninjured. After that, leave your car with caution and approach the animal carefully, keeping in mind the traffic conditions around you.

Take note of the animal’s species and any other important information that you see, such as whether it was dead or alive. Lastly, report the accident to the relevant authorities, such as the police, animal control or an emergency service, following the appropriate protocols.

What Should I Do?

It is a common human instinct to approach an injured animal after a car accident in attempt to offer physical assistance. However, it is important to understand that there are several reasons why this decision may not be the safest for drivers.

Firstly, if the location of the incident is near or on a road, the driver could be putting themselves in danger by approaching a potentially injured creature.

Secondly, animals that have been impacted by a vehicle could become defensive and aggressive towards humans. This means that animals such as dogs may lash out and bite, causing further harm to the individual trying to help them. Furthermore, when humans approach animals who are already in a vulnerable state, they may inadvertently cause the creature to panic and attempt to escape, further exacerbating their injuries.

As a result, it is strongly recommended that drivers leave humane intervention to professionals who are better equipped to handle such situations. By doing so, not only will individuals be less at risk, but injured animals will have a higher chance of receiving the best care possible.


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Who To Notify

In the United Kingdom, it is a legal requirement to inform the police when you hit certain animals while driving, including horses, dogs, cows, pigs, sheep, goats, and donkeys or mules. However, it is recommended that you leave providing first aid to injured animals to the experts.

In case of a road traffic accident involving animals, there are several helpline numbers available to get assistance. For instance, in England and Wales, you can contact the RSPCA by dialing 0300 1234 999. The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals can be reached at 03000 999 999, while the Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals can be contacted at 028 3025 1000 in Northern Ireland. Moreover, many local communities have volunteer teams or veterinary professionals who can help with lost or deceased pets, and social media can often be used to connect with these resources.

Finally, if you come across a dead cat and it is safe to do so, it is a good idea to check for a collar or tag so that you can contact the owner directly instead of informing the police.

Assessing Damage

In the unfortunate event of a collision between your vehicle and an animal, it’s crucial to follow the necessary steps to prevent any further damage or harm. Once you’ve done that, it’s essential to assess the condition of your car, bike, or truck to determine if it has sustained any damages.

Keep in mind that you have a legal obligation to ensure that your vehicle is in roadworthy condition and safe to drive. Therefore, inspect your vehicle thoroughly and do not take any chances if you suspect that the incident might have created a safety risk.

It’s advisable to immediately contact a reputable road recovery or repair service to take care of the damages, ensuring that you are not putting yourself or other road users at risk. Being proactive in this situation can help prevent further damage and, more importantly, promote safety on the roads.


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In conclusion, hitting an animal while driving can be a traumatic experience, and it’s important to know how to respond and follow the necessary protocols. It’s recommended to remain calm, pull over to a safe location, and assess the situation before documenting the incident and reporting it to the relevant authorities or insurance company.

It’s also crucial to leave humane intervention to professionals to prevent further harm or injuries to both the driver and animal. If the damage to the vehicle is significant enough and the driver has comprehensive coverage, GAP insurance can cover the difference between the insurance payout and the amount owed on the car, protecting the driver from financial loss. Ultimately, knowledge and preparation can help alleviate stress and financial burden in these types of accidents.


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Hit An Animal While Driving FAQs

Q. What should I do if I hit an animal while driving?

If you hit an animal while driving, the first thing you should do is stop your car as soon as you can safely do so. Check yourself and any passengers for injuries, and if anyone is hurt, call emergency services immediately. Then, assess the condition of the animal and call the local animal control or police department to report the incident.

Q. Am I liable if I hit an animal while driving?

In most cases, you are not legally liable if you hit an animal while driving. However, if the accident was caused by your negligence (e.g. driving too fast for the weather conditions), you may be held responsible for any damage or injuries that result.

Q. Do I need to notify my insurance company if I hit an animal while driving?

Yes, you should notify your insurance company if you hit an animal while driving. Even if you are not at fault, your insurance company may need to communicate with the animal’s owner, handle any claims that arise, and assess any damage to your vehicle.

Q. Can I sue the animal’s owner if I hit their pet while driving?

You may be able to sue the animal’s owner if they were negligent in controlling their pet, or if they were in violation of any local laws or regulations. However, it can be difficult to prove negligence (especially if the animal was a wild one or had escaped its enclosure) and the animal’s owner may not have insurance or other assets to pay for any damages you incur.

Q. What kind of animals are most commonly hit by cars?

The most commonly hit animals while driving are deer, followed by dogs, cats and sheep. In rural areas, larger animals such as cows and horses may also be frequently hit by cars.

Q. How can I prevent hitting an animal while driving?

To reduce your chances of hitting an animal while driving, pay close attention to road signs warning of animal crossings and drive at a safe speed for the conditions. If you see an animal on the road, slow down and give it plenty of space to escape. Also, avoid driving at night, when many animals are more active and more difficult to see.

Q. Can hitting an animal cause damage to my car?

Yes, hitting an animal while driving can cause significant damage to your car. Depending on the size and speed of the animal, you may experience damage to your bumper, headlights, grill, or windshield.

Q. Can hitting an animal cause injury to myself or passengers?

Yes, hitting an animal while driving can cause serious injury or even death to yourself or passengers. Animals can cause you to lose control of your car, or can cause flying debris that can injure you or your passengers.

Q. What should I do if I hit a domesticated animal, such as someone’s pet?

If you hit someone’s pet while driving, you should immediately stop your car and try to locate the animal’s owner. Ask nearby residents if they recognize the pet, or hang up posters in the area. If you are unable to locate the animal’s owner, contact your local animal control or humane society to report the incident.

Q. Can hitting an animal impact my driving record?

In most cases, hitting an animal while driving will not impact your driving record. However, if the accident was caused by your negligence (e.g. driving too fast for the weather conditions), you may receive a traffic violation or other penalty that can negatively impact your driving record.