One might think it is a rare and unusual occurrence to get in a car accident with an animal – let alone a horse or a deer or a coyote, but there have been hundreds of these reported accidents across the U.S. (yes, even in California) in the last few years and most of them involve the fatality of the driver and/or the animal. Car accidents involving animals are especially common in cities like Simi Valley, Woodland Hills, Calabasas, Thousand Oaks, Sherman Oaks, and other communities where space allows for these animals to live.
Not surprisingly, many auto accidents involving animals happen at night, when the animal runs out into the road without warning. And more often that not, it is the horse or coyote that causes the damage to the vehicles and/or the drivers that seek to avoid them. So what's a cautious but unfortunate driver to do if his car is damaged in an accident with an animal? Or worse, if he or a passenger is injured?
While a large animal doesn't have the money to pay for the damages and injuries that you and your car sustained after being involved in the accident, someone will likely be held responsible if you take action and report the incident. For example, the responsible party may be the animal's owner (the party negligent in taking care of the animal or its safekeeping) or (if the animal has been abandoned or neglected) your auto insurance company. An experienced accident attorny will help you determine who is liable for your injuries and financial expenses.
In the meantime, you can read about equine activity laws in the state where your incident took place and see if there is a statute or case precedence that supports your case. But in the end, it is your accident attorney who will be able to accurately guide you down the right legal path.
As a side note, if you hit a horse or other large animal, do not leave it in the road! Call the authorities to report the incident and get information about appropriate steps to ensure the safety of other drivers.