What to do when an animal gets hit by a car
When most people hear the phrase “car accident”, the mental picture that pops up tends to be one of two or more vehicles; but that’s not always how it plays out. Whether you live in a small town, the big city or on a dusty gravel road out in the country, day or night, accidents involving one vehicle and an animal are more common than you might think.
While these types of accidents can cause extensive damage and/or injuries, they can also be traumatic for other reasons. No one likes the idea of hitting someone’s much-loved pet, but if you’re prepared, it is possible to respond humanely while also ensuring you have all the information you need for any potential insurance or legal repercussions.
Should you find yourself in the unfortunate incident of hitting an animal on the road while driving, we suggest following these steps.
- Ensure you are safe, reduce further risks
- Pull off the road if possible, or as soon as it is safe to do so and activate your hazard lights.
- If the animal is lying in the road, and it is safe to do so, direct your headlights towards it so other drivers can see it.
- It is best not to approach the animal as an injured animal can be dangerous, striking out in self-defense.
- Check your vehicle for leaking fluid, smoke, or missing parts. If you need to, call a tow truck.
- While your emotional reaction might be to get out and help the animal, that’s likely not the best idea, especially if the animal is still alive.
- Gather information
If you’re involved in any type of accident, including an accident involving an animal, it’s important to gather as much information as possible. You might need to provide it to your insurance company if you need to make a claim.
Some details that you should gather in a situation like this can include photos of the animal(s), photos of your surroundings and of any damages that may have occurred, video recordings, and witness contact information if possible.
- Call the police if necessary
The rules for what is expected of a driver who has hit a wild or domestic animal vary from province to province, so you might want to err on the side of caution and notify the police. Notifying the police is crucial if there are any damages to your vehicle or injuries sustained in the collision. You may be required to fill out a police report. If a police report is issued, your insurance company may request it.
Call police if:
- If you hit a large animal and it is in the middle of traffic and hazardous to other drivers.
- If you need to file an accident report due to damages or injuries, call the police to assist you in filing a report.
- If you need assistance moving the animal.
- If the animal is still alive and needs to be taken to a veterinarian where it can receive care or if it needs to be euthanized.
- Unless someone is seriously injured, you do not need to call 911. You can call the non-emergency line or 311.
- Call your insurance provider
It’s best to call your insurance broker as soon as possible if there is damage to your car. Your broker will likely ask you to send photos, detail exactly what happened and report on any injuries. If you call your insurance provider as soon as you can, you’ll be able to recall all necessary details more clearly. The sooner you report damages, the sooner you can receive assistance.
If your auto insurance policy includes comprehensive coverage, you may be covered in the event of hitting an animal while driving. If you’re unsure about your coverage, speak with your broker to see if comprehensive coverage is included on your policy before you need it.
It’s important to have the right coverage in place when the unexpected happens. Professional advice from DPM Insurance Group’s experienced insurance brokers can help guide you through an unexpected event like this. Whether you’re involved in an accident with another person or with an animal, our brokers and CSRs will help guide you through the claims process.