Auto accidents can happen to anyone. And while we’re mostly discussing accidents that involve vehicles and people, it’s very much possible to hit a dog with your car.
What to do in a case like that? Will you be liable?
If this has happened to you, it’s normal to be confused and scared, but you should seek help from a New York car accident attorney and discuss your case with them.
What Should You Do If You Have Hit a Dog With Your Car?
If you happened to hit a dog with your car, the first thing you need to do is stop your car and get out where it’s safe.
Make sure to check the animal. If the dog is still alive, call assistance and stay there until they arrive. If you can and if you believe it’s safe, move the animal so it’s not on the road, or exposed to other crashes.
Be very careful when doing this. It’s likely that the dog is hurting and is scared, so it may react aggressively (it may even bite you). If you have gloves or a jacket use them to protect your hands.
If the dog has a tag, check for the owner’s name and phone. If there are people around, call them and ask them if they can recognize the dog.
It’s also a good idea to call animal control for help. They will take the dog to the vet safely and will scan the dog for an identification microchip.
If You Don’t Stop You Can Get Yourself in Legal Trouble
As in any accident, if you don’t stop at the scene after hitting a dog with your car, you’re putting yourself in legal trouble. You must stop and call the local authorities. If you fail to do this, you may face legal consequences.
For example, let’s say you’re driving and a dog accidentally run across the street. You hit the brakes, but don’t manage to stop and you hit and kill the dog. The panic arises and you decide to continue driving. However, the owner finds their pet, and witnesses saw your car. The police seek a vehicle like yours with damages on the front. You can expect to be arrested when the police find you.
It’s better to stop and have a record of the accident, but you won’t get arrested. Just like with humans, you have a responsibility to stop and help the animal. This way you won’t be legally responsible for the accident (the owner will be, for letting their dog run loose).
Will You Be Responsible for Hitting a Dog With Your Car?
The dog owner is responsible to keep their pets under control. So, if a dog runs freely outside and gets hit by a car, the driver will not be held liable. The owner might be cited and held responsible for not taking care of their pet and letting them run away outside.
However, if the crash was partly caused by your negligence, you might be found liable for the value of the pet.
In most states, the pet is considered personal property, so when you hit a dog with your car and run it’s considered property damage and leads to a criminal penalty.
You might be charged with animal cruelty or failing to notify the owner of property damage.
In every state, you will be expected to stop and report the accident and help the animal. If the owner isn’t at the scene, you must not forget to call an animal care agency, local police department, or even 911.
This will show that you did an effort to help the animal.
What About Your Car Damages?
When hitting an animal (no matter how small) at a certain speed, you can expect to have certain damages to your car. Most insurance coverage plans will cover your damages in such a case. If you can find the dog’s owner, you may even file a claim against them so their insurers will pay for your damages.
The pet owner is required to have their dog tied on a leash or restrained. So, unless you were driving too fast, then you can file a claim against the owner (they will likely be liable for their dog running free).
To make things easier and less complex, it’s best if you hire a car accident attorney to consult with them about everything.
Let our team at Cellino Law help you with your case. Contact our office and schedule your first consultation.