Without a doubt, deer are the most dangerous animals in the United States. That’s right—deer. The truth is that these seemingly adorable and gentle animals cause approximately 1.2 million traffic accidents and more than one billion dollars in damages to cars each year. While many deer-caused vehicle accidents result in relatively minor injuries, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports deer are also responsible for two hundred deaths and around ten thousand serious injuries each year.
Our attorneys at The Law Offices of Lee Steinberg are Michigan car accident experts, including deer-vehicle collision (DVC) cases. We have represented DVC victims for over 40 years. If you have been involved in a DVC, whether it involved another vehicle or not, we will fight to ensure you receive the compensation and benefits you deserve under the law.
Michigan in the Top Ten for Car Accidents Involving Deer
Over the past several years, Michigan has climbed State Farm’s annual list of states where one is most likely to be involved in a DVC. The most recent list finds Michigan breaking into the top ten. While the odds of hitting a deer is around 1/169 nationwide, your odds in Michigan are 1/97, with experts estimating the odds are twice as bad for drivers during deer season. The most dangerous Michigan counties for deer-vehicle collisions, as of 2014, are:
1. Oakland County
2. Kent County
3. Jackson County
4. Lapeer County
5. Eaton County
6. Sanilac County
7. Clinton County
8. Montcalm County
9. Genesee County
Our home state is home to nearly two million deer, even after several brutal winters sheared their numbers significantly. Add that to increasing losses of deer habitat due to development, mating season, and hunting season, and you have a recipe for disaster. November is by far the worst month for deer accidents, followed by October and December, and dawn (5 – 8 a.m.) and evening (5 p.m. – 12 a.m.) hours are particularly dangerous.
Deer-Vehicle Collisions Involving A Single Car
DVCs most often involve only a single car. In fact, 98% of all wildlife-vehicle collisions are a result of one car hitting an animal or a car swerving to miss an animal and having an accident instead. The difference between the two is actually meaningful. If you hit a deer (or any other animal), most car insurance companies will typically cover deer-related damage under comprehensive coverage as with so-called “acts of God” like hail, flood, or fire. If you do NOT hit the deer, but instead swerve or otherwise avoid the deer by rolling your vehicle or crashing it into another obstacle, most insurance companies will cover damages through your collision coverage.
Deer-Vehicle Collisions Involving Two or More Vehicles
Though multi-car DVCs are less common, they can be far more dangerous, deadly, and certainly more complex. As these cases can involve negligence on the part of one of the drivers, an injured driver or passenger may have a strong case against the other driver. These are usually treated as standard car accident cases. If you are involved in an accident of this type, it is critical to seek expert legal assistance in order to ensure there are no missteps in the pursuit of the damages you deserve. If another driver is found negligent, you may be entitled to compensation for medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Preventing Deer-Car Accidents
There are many steps drivers can take to minimize the likelihood of being involved in a car accident involving deer:
• Buckle up! Many serious injuries could have been avoided if seatbelts had been used.
• Be aware of deer crossing signs. Slow down and use abundant caution in areas where the signs are posted.
• Avoid distractions. Deer can be hard to see, especially during the times they are most active, so keep your eyes on the road
• When driving at night, use your high beams when there are not other vehicles present.
• Remember that deer travel in groups. If you see one, you should expect that others are close by.
• If a deer freezes in front of your car, use one long, continuous blast to attempt to get the animal to move.
• If you see a deer, brake and stay in your lane. Turn on your hazard lights if you have time, so as to alert drivers around you to the danger. Do not swerve!
• If you cannot avoid an accident, call police immediately and take pictures of the scene and damage for your insurance company.
Contact Us Now About Your Deer-Vehicle Collision
Working with insurance companies to ensure you get the compensation you deserve can be frustrating and confusing. We can help. Please call Lee Free and speak to our deer-vehicle collision attorneys at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) or fill out the Free Case Evaluation Form. And remember, you pay nothing until we settle your Michigan deer-vehicle accident case.