As a Los Angeles car accident lawyer, I was recently asked about accidents involving animals.
Sadly, these kinds of accidents happen too frequently. At some point, we’ve all seen animals who met their end on the roadway. So here’s what you need to know.
The California Vehicle Code makes it a misdemeanor to leave the scene of an accident involving property damage. Pet owners may disagree with the law’s classification of the family dog, but as the law stands now, dogs and household pets are considered property only.
What this means is that, if you accidentally hit an animal, you should pull over safely in a way that doesn’t impede the flow of traffic. If you are able to, you should locate and notify the animal’s owner and exchange information with him or her. Most pets have name tags on their collars, making this task easier to perform.
Providing your information to the pet owner doesn’t necessarily make you at fault for the accident. But driving away from the scene is considered a hit-and-run, and that’s a big no-no.
What happens if you hit a wild animal? The California Highway Patrol recommends that you pull over and call 911. Tell the operator what you hit, and if the animal is injured in the roadway, the appropriate agency should be notified to come tend to the animal.
If you are driving and see an animal in the roadway, you should obviously try to stop. But NEVER SWERVE to try and avoid hitting the animal, as this can have even deadlier consequences. As harsh as it sounds, experts advise drivers to stay in control of the vehicle, even if it means hitting the animal in the roadway.
Lastly, dead animals on the street can pose significant safety risks. If you see an animal carcass, report it to your local animal control agency. In Los Angeles, there’s an app for this function too.
Stay safe on the road, and for questions about your accident case, the Rabbi Lawyer is one phone call away!