Thousands of animals cause accidents on Australian roads each year. In fact one in five accidents in rural areas involve livestock or wildlife. The most often hit animals are kangaroos and wallabies who are particularly active at dawn and dusk. Farm animals such as horses, cattle, sheep and goats may also be encountered on rural roads and highways during daylight hours and off leash dogs can cause accidents in suburban areas.
Hitting an animal can cause severe damage to a vehicle and injuries to the occupants. Large animals with a high centre of gravity such as horses, cattle, emus, goats and kangaroos can cause fatal injuries to vehicle occupants. When collisions with animals occur at high speeds a driver can easily lose control of their vehicle.
Approach quietly and from behind and handle the animal with a towel, blanket or clothing to protect yourself and the animal. If its a kangaroo, wallaby or wombat check its pouch for young survivors.
Find a nearby vet or animal hospital or contact a local wildlife rescue organisation. If you need to transport the animal to safety, be sure to cover its claws and mouth in case the animal beings to panic in transit. Make a note of exactly where the animal was located when hit, so that after it recovers the vet can return it to its former habitat.
If an animal is seriously injured and needs to be euthanised contact the local police. If the animal is a domestic pet you must contact the owner, Police or the RSPCA.
Take all necessary precautions to avoid hitting animals in the future. If you regularly drive through areas that are densely populated with wildlife at night, consider keeping an animal specific first aid kit on hand which includes a torch, fluids, blanket and bandages.
Especially if it is a large animal, it is best to remove it from the roadway if it is safe for you to do so. It may save the vehicle coming behind you from having to brake or swerve and potentially having an accident. Ensure it is safe to pull over and attend to the animal. Use an old towel, clothing, blanket or shovel to shift the remains off the road.
Vets are required by law to assist injured animals and most will not charge you for bringing wildlife in.
In cases where an accident involves livestock or wildlife, owners of damaged vehicles will need to claim on their own comprehensive car insurance policy. Under Queensland law, owners of livestock are not liable to vehicle owners for damage caused by their livestock that have strayed out of paddocks and onto roadways. However this is not the case in other areas of Australia. Queensland is the only state where livestock is still deemed to have “right of way” on a road.
If you or your occupants suffer injuries as a result of a car accident involving an animal, your passengers may be able to claim through your compulsory third party (CTP) insurance if you were at fault or partly at fault. Drivers are generally unable to claim compensation for their injuries on their own CTP policies as it only covers them for their liability to other people for injury claims.
In circumstances, where an accident is caused by another driver swerving or braking to avoid an animal on a rural road, the other driver’s third party property damage insurance should cover you for damage to your vehicle. Compensation for your injuries or those of your passengers may be available under the other driver’s policy.
In some cases where an accident is caused by a domestic pet which is roaming a suburban area without restraint, you may be able to claim compensation from the owner of the pet for negligence as Queensland regulations state that dogs must be kept confined or on a leash.
It’s important to get advice for your specific situation. Check if you can make a risk-free compensation claim and get free initial advice from our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith.
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