Collisions with Animals
A million things run through a driver’s mind while he or she is driving their vehicle. Colliding into an animal with the vehicle is probably not one of those thoughts. However, this should be on a person’s mind due to the large number of collisions between vehicles and animals in recent years. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates more than 1.5 million deer collisions take place each year in the United States, costing approximately 1.1 billion dollars in vehicle damage. It is also estimated that deer collisions cause about 200 fatalities each year. The average property damage cost of deer collisions between July 1, 2012, and June 30, 2013, was $3,414, up 3.3 percent from the year before.
A car collision with an animal is costly and may even be fatal. It is not thought about often, but drivers may also collide into a cow or other person’s livestock. Louisiana law provides presumptions of who may be at fault when such a collision may occur. Where a cow causes damage in a collision with an automobile, Louisiana courts will presume negligence of the owner of the livestock. To escape liability, the owner must rebut that presumption by proving that he has taken every precaution expected of a reasonably prudent individual to prevent livestock from leaving their corral and roaming at large. The owner must not only show he has taken all reasonable precautions to enclose his livestock, but also must explain the presence of the livestock on the highway by showing how the animal escaped if he is to overcome the presumption of negligence and to prove freedom from fault in the slightest degree. General evidence as to reasonable precautions is not sufficient.
Louisiana law presumes the owner of the livestock is at fault, and it is a pretty strong presumption to overcome. A collision between livestock and a vehicle on an interstate or open road can result in terrifying injuries and even fatalities. If a cow, horse, or other livestock gets loose and causes damage to the car, driver, or passenger it is important to hold the owner or anyone else who acted carelessly responsible.
The owner of the livestock will probably hire an attorney who will try to use the Farm Animal Immunity Statute to their advantage by trying to escape liability. Our firm has had experience in defeating the Immunity Statute. If it can be shown that the owner of the animal failed to provide reasonable and prudent steps to protect the animal from injuring someone, then arguably the owner will have responsibility for any injuries caused by such mismanagement. Perhaps it may be shown that the owner knew or should have known the equipment used to secure the animal was faulty, then the owner could be exposed to liability even in the face of the Immunity Statute.
We successfully represented a woman who was thrown from a French Quarter buggy where the mule got spooked by a passing vehicle. She was seriously injured requiring surgery. The buggy/mule owner raised the Farm Animal Immunity to avoid liability, but we successfully defeated its use recovering a large damage award for our client.
Mr. Cardone and the legal professionals at The Cardone Law Firm know how to assess your case and the ways to find loopholes in the statute to hold the careless party liable. If you have been injured in such a collision it is important to have a skilled trial attorney on your side to use the presumptions of Louisiana law to receive the compensation you are entitled to.