Hitting a deer is unfortunate, and it happens to even the best drivers. If you hit a deer, you need to know what to do. Here’s your guide to taking action after you hit a deer.

What To Do If You Hit a Deer

After a deer collision, you need to take the following steps:

Move Your Vehicle to a Safe Area

If possible, move your car over to the shoulder of the road and turn on your hazard lights. If you need to leave your vehicle for any reason, stay away from the road and out of the way from oncoming traffic. Remember that deer are most active during dusk and dawn, and these are also the times your vehicle can be less visible to other drivers.

Call the Police

Notify the authorities if the deer is blocking traffic lanes. Blocked traffic lanes can pose a threat to other drivers. If you are injured or have damaged property, you may be required to provide this information on an official report. This report can be an essential document when you file a claim with your auto insurance provider.

Document the Incident

Document the incident as factual as possible. Although you may be a little shaken up, try to remember the events that led to the accident. You will also need to take pictures of the roadway, other surroundings close to where the incident occurred, and pictures of the damage your vehicle sustained. You will also need to take pictures of any injuries that occurred if any. If witnesses stop, get their contact information (name, phone number) and their account of what occurred.

Avoid Contact with the Animal

You may get the urge to comfort the animal because you are sorry that you hit, but avoid the animal at all costs. You understand what happened, but, likely, the deer does not. The deer will be frightened, and a wounded deer could use its legs and hooves to get away and potentially harm you.

Contact Your Auto Insurance Provider

As soon as you report the damage and/or injuries, you will be able to contact your auto insurance agent so they can process your claim. Auto insurance claims can take a few days, if not weeks to process, so the sooner you file the claim, the sooner you will be able to proceed to the next steps in the process. Most auto insurance providers allow you to file a claim through their mobile app.

Don’t Assume Your Vehicle is Still Operational

One mistake many drivers make is assuming their vehicle is operational after a collision with a deer. If you’re able, double-check that your vehicle is drivable after the collision. You’ll want to be on the lookout for loose parts, leaking fluid, broken lights, and tire damage. Another safety hazard you’ll want to look at is a hood that won’t latch. If your vehicle resembles any hazardous damage, or you’re unsure, call for a tow.

Staying Safe on the Road

Here’s some expert advice on how to stay safe on the road, especially if you live in or frequently travel in a location where a collision with a deer is possible.

Stay Alert

Be aware of your surroundings while you’re driving, and don’t do things that can cause you to become distracted. If you see a deer, slow down and be prepared to come to a complete stop. Even if you’re not sure you saw a deer, slow down in case it was a deer.

Use Your High Beams

Your high beams are essential when you’re traveling through areas where deer are likely to be present. Using your high beams will help you spot deer from a distance, giving you time to slow down and prepare to drive through the area with increased visibility.

Be Cautious When You’re Driving at Dusk or Dawn

Dusk and dawn are the times when deer are most active, so you’re more likely to encounter them while you’re driving. Be as cautious and alert as possible. Drive slower than you normally would at these times to help prevent a deer collision.

Lookout for Deer Crossing Signs

These signs are placed strategically so you know that deer frequent certain areas and often cross the road. When you see deer crossing signs, slow down and be extra cautious when you’re traveling through these areas.

Apply the Brake, Don’t Swerve

If you see a deer, apply the brake firmly and stay in your current lane. Your first instinct may be to swerve so you can avoid hitting the deer, but this can cause you to lose control of your car and it increases the risk of a collision.

Use Your Horn

If you see a deer in the road, sometimes they don’t want to move. If this is the case, honky your horn to try to scare it away. You may need to honk your horn more than once to get the deer to move safely across the street.

Insurance and Legal Matters

Being involved in a deer collision is a kind of accident that can be covered by your auto insurance policy if you have the right coverage.

Should I Get Comprehensive or Collision Coverage?

Vehicle damage that is caused by a deer collision is covered by your auto insurance policy’s comprehensive coverage. This auto insurance coverage handles damages to your vehicle caused by events that are out of your control, such as hitting a deer or another animal. For your auto insurance policy to cover the accident, your vehicle must come into contact with the deer or other animal. Here are a few scenarios in which comprehensive coverage would apply:

  • You hit a deer or another animal in the road
  • A deer or another animal runs into your vehicle
  • An animal burrows into your vehicle (sounds a little bizarre, but raccoons have been known to tear into seat cushions, and rodents can chew your car’s wires under the hood.) Depending on the unique circumstances, your comprehensive coverage may take care of the damages.

Keep in mind that if you swerve to avoid hitting a deer or another animal in the road and hit another vehicle, collide with an object, or overturn your vehicle, you must have collision coverage to take care of these damages. If you have comprehensive coverage, you’re likely to also have collision, but check your auto policy to be sure.

What If I Am Injured?

Comprehensive and collision coverage only handles vehicle damage. Any claim for medical bills after you hit a deer will be covered by your medical payments or personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, if you opted to have these coverages. In any event, make sure you provide your health insurance information to your healthcare providers. The injury-related coverage provided by your auto insurance company could be different than what your auto insurance policy provides, and your health insurance can help cover the difference in your medical bills.

Is It Illegal to Hit a Deer and Continue Driving?

In some states, there may not be any laws against hitting a deer and driving off. In other states, hitting a deer and continuing to drive can be considered a crime. Since every state is different, it’s important to know the laws for your state. If you’re not sure what to do, contact your local authorities for assistance.

What Happens If I Hit a Deer and It Runs Away?

It’s not uncommon for a deer to run away after it’s been hit. In most scenarios, the deer does more damage to your vehicle than itself. However, this is not always the case. If you hit a deer and it runs away, take pictures of any blood or fur that was left behind on your vehicle or in the road and inspect your vehicle for damage. If your vehicle has sustained damage, call the authorities. If there is no damage you can see, you can drive your car.

Hitting a deer can be a traumatic event for you and the deer. Use the expert advice provided above to help you stay safe and be aware of what to do if you hit a deer. Happy driving!