Knowledge base

Hit an Animal While Driving

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. 

Car accident caused by hitting an animal

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.

I hit an animal on the road while driving  - what should I do?

1. Ensure the safety of yourself and the occupants of your vehicle.

  • ‍Ensure your vehicle is pulled safely off the road
  • Use your hazard lights
  • Have someone keep a look out while others attend to the animal if on the road.

2. Carefully assess the animal’s condition 

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.

3. Seek medical attention for the animal

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.

4. Report the accident.

Reporting a car accident after hitting an animal

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.

5. Learn from your experience

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.

Frequently asked questions

How can I avoid hitting animals on the road?

  • Slow down and avoid driving at night, dusk and dawn in rural and bushland areas.
  • If you seen animal near the road, there will likely be many others, so toot your horn to scare them away from the roadway.
  • Pay attention to road signs indicating areas with high wildlife populations and crossings.
  • Report livestock on roads to the relevant authorities.

If I hit and kill an animal should I remove it from the road?

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.

If I take injured wildlife to the vet will, I be charged for its medical care?

Vets are required by law to assist injured animals and most will not charge you for bringing wildlife in.

Can I claim compensation for an accident involving an animal?

Claim compensation after hitting an animal

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.

Can I claim compensation for an accident caused by another driver attempting to avoid an animal?

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.

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Last update on:
September 11, 2020
Disclaimer: This information is designed for general information in relation to Queensland compensation law. It does not constitute legal advice. We strongly recommend you seek legal advice in regards to your specific situation. For expert advice call 1800 266 801 or chat via live chat to arrange free initial advice with our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith.

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