Do Alabama Farmers Have Liability If You Crash into Their Cow?
We all have a good idea who pays for the damage to your car if you hit a deer on Alabama’s back roads – your auto insurance company does. But, what about if you’re seriously injured after running into one of Farmer McDonald’s cows as she slowly strolls across the road to get to the tall, green grass on the other side?
It’s an interesting question that comes with a somewhat disappointing answer. Regardless of the extent of your injuries, pursuant to Alabama law, “drivers injured by stray livestock are essentially barred from recovering damages from the animal owner.”
To put it all in perspective, motor vehicle accidents caused by large animals are a common occurrence in most parts of the country. In Alabama alone, using statistics obtained in a 2010 study, Alabama drivers were involved in 24,971 deer-related accidents for the year, which caused an estimated $83.7 million in property and personal injury damages.
And, with the wildlife population increasing at a high rate in rural and urban areas as more of their habitats are taken from them, larger animals such as deer will become more prone to collisions with motor vehicles. But, there’s also a growing concern over livestock-related accidents in many Alabama counties.
An average-sized car doesn’t stand much of a chance against a cow or horse straying into its path on a roadway – day or night. Because of their massive size and weight, both will often lead to the same outcome – severe bodily injuries or death to anyone riding in the front seat of the vehicle. If a livestock vs. car accident takes place at night, the reduced visibility will normally result in the driver hitting the animal at full speed, with virtually no chance to avoid contact.
While deer-related collisions are mostly freak accidents with no one to hold liable, livestock vs. vehicle accidents are different due to the fact that they can usually be traced back to someone who owns the animal that was responsible for your wreck. But, that’s just about where it ends.
Never mind that the irresponsible owner didn’t close the gate or failed to repair a year-old break in the fence around his property that could have spared you and your new Lexus from getting totaled by Daisy Mae or Sea Biscuit.
The livestock owner is pretty much off the hook, according to Alabama law, which currently absolves him or her from any liability claim you try to file for their negligent acts. Because of Alabama’s statute that provides that “an owner of any livestock is not liable for any damages to an automobile or its occupants unless the driver can prove that the owner knowingly and willfully placed the livestock upon the highway,” you’re more or less on your own.
It’s easy to get the best rate on your Alabama car insurance. Simply call USAgencies today at (800) 420-3712 to speak with a live agent to get a free car insurance quote. You can also request a free car insurance quote online.