Preventing car collisions with animals is an important concern for California drivers. A motor vehicle-domestic animal accident is almost always a preventable accident. Wild animals in California often cause car accidents, but may not be preventable. Special rules apply to these types of incidents.

An animal that wanders away from the farm or owner’s property is a trespasser. If the animal goes onto a private property and then causes damage to the possessor of the property, the owner may be found liable. Strict liability may also apply if the animal trespasses onto a neighbor’s property and either causes property damage or personal injury to that neighbor or neighbor’s property. A motor vehicle vs. domestic animal that happens on a private road is similarly considered.

Conversely, strict liability may not apply if a visitor to a property (not the possessor) is harmed by a trespassing animal. Similarly, if the animal wanders onto a public road and collides with a vehicle, passengers in the car aren’t possessors and may not be able to seek damages for strict liability (Formerly CA. Food and Agricultural Code § 16904).

If the motor vehicle collides with a wild animal, it’s important to avoid swerving into another driver’s lane. A car collision can result in an attempt to avoid colliding with the wild animal. Obviously, the driver can’t file a legal claim against the wild animal for damages to his or her property or injuries. However, if a passenger is in the car when the driver collides with a wild animal and the passenger suffers an injury, it’s possible for the passenger to file a claim against the driver.

If you’ve been involved in a vehicle vs. domestic animal accident or you were injured as a passenger when the driver collided with a wild animal, contact The Paris Firm today to schedule a case evaluation.