When you’re a passenger in someone else’s car, you expect the driver to be careful and vigilant. You expect that they will drive at a reasonable speed and adjust their driving for the conditions. For example, if it’s dark, you expect the driver to turn on their lights; and if something is in the roadway, whether a deer or anything else, you expect that the driver will be driving in such a way that they can see the obstruction in advance and avoid it to keep everyone safe.
Unfortunately, this is not always true.
Let’s say the person driving ignores a sign warning that you’re in a high deer traffic area. If they later have to swerve to avoid hitting a deer, the results may be catastrophic. The driver can lose control of the vehicle, cross into oncoming traffic, and cause a lot more harm. And as a passenger, you’re along for the ride.
Who pays your medical bills in a deer strike – or a swerve-to-miss – crash is a common question in North Carolina and South Carolina. In this article, I’ll draw on my experience as a car accident and personal injury attorney to lay out the important facts with some examples. And here’s one fact you should know right away:
What if I’m Injured in a Car That Hits a Deer?
Imagine you’re a passenger in a car in the early morning hours. A deer emerges from the roadside foliage, and the driver you entrusted with your safety hits the deer head-on. What happens now?
A deer strike is not generally considered an uncontrollable, unforeseeable “act of God.” Therefore, the at-fault driver will generally have to pay for the passenger’s injuries from their liability policy. MedPay/PIP, which is optional additional coverage many drivers have, could also be a source of possible compensation for you.
What if I’m Injured in a Car That Swerves to Avoid Hitting a Deer?
In this example, the person driving the vehicle you’re in sees a deer in the roadway too late. Since they cannot stop in time, they swerve and the car hits a tree instead. What happens now?
Again, the driver here likely bears the fault. You are likely owed compensation from the driver’s required liability coverage and possibly their optional MedPay/PIP policy.
What Happens if You Are a Passenger in a Car Accident (Deer or Not)?
Let’s say the driver serves to avoid something in the roadway, and you end up in the lane for oncoming traffic. Even if it’s at a low speed, head-on collisions are bad news.
It could be a deer or any other animal, distracted driving, drunk driving, or just plain negligence. The at-fault driver is responsible for making you whole, and you should pursue everything you may be owed.
Even if the at-fault driver is a family member or friend, you shouldn’t be paying out of pocket for injuries you suffered through no fault of your own. This is what insurance is for, after all.
“I was a passenger in a car accident and the driver was at fault.”
If that describes you, you are likely owed compensation, but make a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance before you file a lawsuit. If you and your attorney can get the compensation you need through an insurance claim, that can save you a lot of time and money.
If the at-fault driver had no insurance, or the limits on that policy were too low to compensate you for all your harms and losses, then a lawsuit may be the best option. Your attorney can help you strategize on how to try and get maximum compensation for your harms and losses.
How much money you can potentially recover as a passenger injured in a car accident depends on the specifics of your injury and the circumstances that led to it. For example, how bad is your injury and what effect will it have on you in the future?
I can tell you the driver is likely liable in the situations we’ve talked about. What I can’t tell you is how much you may be owed. There is no “average amount” that you can receive in a personal injury case, but deer car accident cases can be worth just as much as a typical car wreck, depending on your injuries.
Injured as a Passenger in a Car Accident That Involved Swerving to Avoid Hitting a Deer? Call an Attorney
Remember, the driver may be your friend, but their insurance company isn’t. They’re looking out for their own best interests, not yours. But we’re on your side.
In our 25+ years, we’ve helped more than 65,000 people recover more than $1.8 billion in total compensation.1 And if we don’t recover for you, you pay no attorney’s fee at all – guaranteed.2