Who is at fault when bad weather or an animal causes your car accident?
When most people think of car accidents, they think of one car hitting another. However, there are many car accidents that occur because of weather and animals. As a driver, it’s important to be aware of all of the different ways that an accident can occur.
No matter the cause, you have rights. Here’s what you need to know about Atlanta car accidents caused by weather and animals.
Car accidents caused by animals
Millions of car accidents are caused by animals each year. In fact, statistics show that as many as 2 million collisions occur in the U.S. each year because of animals. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that between 1 and 2 million collisions happen each year involving animals. Similarly, a major insurance company says that 1 out of every 116 drivers reports hitting an animal in a 1-year period.
Squirrels, raccoons, dogs, cats, horses, cows and other livestock can all cause accidents. Even a small animal can cause a chain reaction with other vehicles or contribute to a single-vehicle accident that causes significant harm.
Your rights in a car accident caused by an animal
There are a number of ways that you can assert your rights when you’re involved in a car accident caused by an animal. First, you can look at who is responsible for the fact that the animal is in the roadway. If the animal is owned by someone, like a family pet or livestock might be, the owner may be legally responsible for the damages.
Georgia is an at-fault state for car accidents. With at-fault laws, you may bring a claim against anyone who is responsible for causing a car accident. They don’t have to be a vehicle driver.
When a person causes a car accident by negligently allowing their animal to roam into the road, they may owe you financial compensation. Although it’s tragic when an animal is hurt or killed, the law looks to whose actions are negligent. If an animal owner allows their animal to get loose, they may owe you for your financial losses (i.e. medical bills, lost wages, etc.) as well as for your pain and suffering and vehicle repairs.
Wild animals are a different story. There is no owner to pay for your damages and medical bills; instead, the burden usually falls on you. The good news is if you have damage to just your own vehicle—crack in the windshield from a bird or dented tire from a raccoon—your insurance should help you out.
It gets complicated when you swerve to miss a deer and hit an oncoming car instead, or some other scenario where you cause damage to another person or car. The law would rather you hit the animal rather than cause harm to a fellow driver or pedestrian. While it may seem like instinct to avoid hitting the animal, this instinct must be ignored if possible. Otherwise, you’ll be facing more than just medical bills: the law will become involved.
Here are some common animals that are hit in Georgia:
Bad weather car accidents
Bad weather is another common cause of car accidents in Georgia. There are many kinds of bad weather that can contribute to a car accident, including:
- Heavy rain
- Thunderstorms and lightning
- Debris blown by wind and tornadoes
- Hurricanes and tropical storms
When an auto accident is caused by bad weather, determining liability is complex.
However, a driver or another third party may be to blame. Drivers are supposed to take bad weather into account in their driving habits. When there is fog, for example, it’s the obligation of each driver to adjust their speed. When there are strong winds, a driver must secure their load so that debris doesn’t scatter across the roadway.
Whether you can hold someone personally accountable for a bad weather car accident comes down to negligence. Every member of society has a duty to drive in a careful manner. They must behave reasonably in any situation where their actions may cause someone else harm. In reviewing a case, the entire set of circumstances matters.
Methods of compensation for weather-related accidents
Remember, there may be multiple avenues for compensation when a car accident occurs because of bad weather. Claiming compensation from the responsible driver is one possibility. However, you may also be able to look to your own insurance policy to get the compensation that you deserve.
Comprehensive coverage is insurance coverage for damages to your vehicle that is not caused by car accidents. For example, if your car is parked and a hail storm damages your vehicle, you may receive compensation through your comprehensive policy.
Every insurance policy is unique. You have to investigate to see if you have this kind of coverage. Examining your insurance policy from all angles can help you determine if you qualify for this kind of compensation. You may negotiate with the insurance company, but you may also bring legal action against the insurance company if they refuse to pay you fairly.
Winning compensation for animal and bad weather car accidents
In order to receive compensation for your animal or bad weather car accident, you must take action. You need to work quickly to identify the responsible party, preserve the evidence and assert your rights. By taking the necessary steps, you may receive compensation for your medical bills, vehicle damage, missed work and rehabilitation costs. You may also receive compensation for pain and suffering related to the severity of your accident.
You don’t have to fight alone. An experienced Atlanta car accident lawyer from the Scholle Law team can help you claim the financial compensation that you deserve. There are time limits to bring your case. Contact us today for your free consultation.