What to do if you hit an animal whilst driving

What your responsibilities if you hit an animal

When driving there is always a chance that an animal could cross into your path. Our natural instinct is to swerve to avoid a collision but, in some situations, this isn’t always possible. If your vehicle is travelling at a speed which would make it unsafe or impossible to stop in time, or if another vehicle is coming the other way, you may have no choice but to hit the animal.

Hitting an animal with your car is very distressing, but can, unfortunately, happen at any time. It is therefore worth researching what your responsibilities are, should the situation arise.

What should I do if I hit an animal?

The law requires you to stop at the scene of an animal collision if it has been injured or killed. If you are involved in a collision, take the necessary precautions when parking up to avoid causing a further accident. Once safe to do so, approach the animal with caution as it may be scared and aggressive.

One of the most commonly posed questions is, if an animal is hit by a car who to call first. If the animal is injured, you should call the police who will be able to arrange for its care or ensure it is dispatched humanely. If you find the animal dead it will need to be removed – again the police will take care of this for you. If anyone else is involved, you should swap details and take care of any necessary insurance arrangements.

What animals do you have to report if you hit them?

An area which causes confusion for many people is which animals should be reported if they are hit. In terms of collisions, the definition of an animal only includes a few species: horse, cow, ass, mule, sheep, pig, goat or dog. This means that if you accidentally hit another animal, such as a deer or rabbit, you are not legally obliged to report it.

If I hit an animal while driving, will my insurance go up?

If your car is damaged or yourself and passengers suffer any injuries, it is likely that you will be able to claim on your insurance. If you hit an animal and make an insurance claim, you may lose your no claims bonus which could lead to your insurance premium increasing. If you can prove that the animal hit was a pet or farm animal and it was the owner’s fault, they will be liable for any costs incurred. It is advisable to take photos and gather witness statements to help you make your claim.

If you have hit an animal and are looking for advice about what to do next, or need to have your vehicle repaired following a collision, please contact one of our Carwise centres in Harlow, Maidstone and Dunstable. Our trained technicians use the latest tools and technology to restore your car to its pre-accident condition.