Just under a year ago, a Florida mother and her two toddlers suffered a fatal auto collision with an alligator in South Carolina. According to police, they struck the animal and skidded off the road, smashing into a tree. The vehicle burst into flames upon impact, killing all three.
Unfortunately, if you live in Florida — or anywhere along the Gulf of Mexico — this probably isn’t the first story you’ve heard about an auto accident involving one of these larger-than-life reptiles. In fact, the USDA reports about a billion dollars annually in collision damage due to alligators and other wildlife.
If you have recently experience this kind of accident, and aren’t sure what happens next, an experienced Florida auto claims attorney can help. In the meantime, we’ll share how to avoid animal-vehicle collisions, reduce impact when you can’t, and what happens afterwards if the accident was unavoidable.
Avoiding a Wildlife Accident in Florida
Three common-sense concepts are the most likely way to get you where you need to be without colliding with part of the animal kingdom:
Drive Undistracted. We can probably all agree that you can’t avoid what you don’t see. With technology at our fingertips — some of which is specifically designed to make our driving experiences more enjoyable — accidents due to distracted driving have risen drastically over the past several years. Even if you think you’re alone on the open road – just you, your GPS app, and your playlist – know that you’re not. The primary way you can help yourself avoid a wild animal collision is to keep your eyes on the road.
Know Your Roads. Understanding what wildlife populates your areas, during which seasons, and their basic life habits will help when navigating various landscapes on your regular routes — particularly over hills and at crossing points. Additionally, you should use auto safety features like adaptive headlights to see better. Wild animals are generally most active at dusk and dawn, so you want to be on heightened alert during those hours. Finally, living where alligators are abundant means learning to keep your eyes lower than someone watching for, say, deer.
3.) Keep to Posted Speeds. You may not be aware, but roadway engineers consider every aspect of the environment when developing recommendations for speeds. They look at physics and velocity around curves, distances of straight-aways before drivers become drowsy — everything. Sometimes those low speeds are in place to allow you enough time to brake for local wildlife.
When you do have to stop suddenly, quickly tap your brakes several times to signal drivers behind, lay on your horn to frighten the animal, and then simply brake – do not swerve. You may be able to stop short of an accident, and swerving often leads to greater damage than the actual impact.
Otherwise, braking in the way described will at minimum reduce animal-vehicle impact and associated damage. From there, a few key steps will ensure swift and proper processing of your auto accident claim.
After an Animal-Vehicle Collision Occurs in Florida
Your comprehensive coverage insurance plan protects your vehicle against physical damage from a car crash not caused by a stationary object or another vehicle. That includes wildlife-vehicle collisions as long as your claim meets a few standard requirements.
Generally speaking, you should take these steps:
First make sure that you and any other people involved are okay. If there are serious injuries, reach out to emergency services immediately.
If possible, pull over and do what it takes to make yourself and the scene visible: put on your hazards, and light a couple of flairs if you’ve got them.
Next, call the police to report the accident. Although there is no law in Florida against leaving the scene of an animal-related accident, staying until authorities arrive to let them know whether the animal is alive (in which case they can safely put it down) is the humane thing to do.
Last, if you’re able, take photos. Document the scene, the animal, the damage to your vehicle, and any visible injuries sustained by yourself or any passengers.
Nearly all animal car accidents are handled the same by car insurance carriers. Knowing what damage to look for and how to handle an animal damage claim can save time and money.
About the Author:
Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for the South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.
July 4th tends to evoke backyard barbecues, poolside cocktails, and fireworks at dusk. We usually think of spending this holiday with family, and staying close to home. On the contrary, AAA pegs the fourth as one of their busiest days. Did you know the average distance traveled on July 4th is 617 miles? What’s more, [..]
When most of us think about Fourth of July safety, we think about fireworks. Although improper use of fireworks can cause serious injuries, there’s a less obvious risk: food poisoning. Most Fourth of July celebrations involve outdoor gatherings, with perishable food that’s often brought in by a number of people, some of whom may not [..]
Summer is upon us, and it’s peak swimming pool season in the sunshine state. Although swimming is a great way to cool off and get some exercise, it can also be dangerous. Statistics show three children die every day from swimming pool accidents, and many more people sustain serious injuries. In many cases, these tragic [..]
Memorial Day offers a time to celebrate loved ones lost. It also signals the beginning of another Florida summer which often means road trip! In either case, we all find a reason and a way to cut loose. Unfortunately, these celebrations also lead to an uptick in car accidents. The primary causes? More cars on [..]
Johnson & Johnson has been a trusted name in cosmetics and household products for decades. However, in recent years, they have come under fire for lawsuits that suggest their talcum powder products caused cancer. The company isn’t just paying with a blow to their reputation, either. Earlier this year, a woman in California won $29 [..]
Every summer, Floridians look forward to that much needed break that summer camp provides: the kids to get away from the daily grind of the school year, and you to get a little breathing room from them. Exactly how much of a break would it be, though, if you’re still holding your breath in anticipation [..]
Temperatures are rising and a lot of long weekends are just around the corner. Whether you’re planning to hop in your boat for Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, or other summer holidays, it’s important to stay safe this season. Boating accidents do happen here in Florida, and many can be fatal. In 2017, 658 [..]
In the height of prom season, across the country, local police and first responders work with surrounding schools, survivors, and other drunk driving prevention organizations to reenact realistic reminders of why teens in their communities shouldn’t drink and drive. One survivor in Illinois recounted his experience of being ejected through a car window after plowing [..]
Cycling is not only a convenient and healthy way to get around in Florida, but it’s widely accepted as an effective means of reducing congestion on the road and improving the quality of our environment. However, the relationship between drivers and cyclists in Florida has always been tinged with antagonism. Motorists often complain that cyclists [..]
We live in an animal-loving society. Most of us interact with pets on a daily basis (ours or others), and they are an important part of many people’s lives. However, it is vital to remember that all animals are, at their core, wild, and sometimes things go wrong. What happens when an animal bites someone? [..]
Bars and advertisements for alcoholic products often encourage people to “drink responsibly,” but in some cases, the establishments or bartenders serving these drinks may be at least partially liable for a patron’s alcohol-related injury or death. Under certain circumstances, bars can—and should—be held responsible for over-serving patrons. Many states have “dram shop” laws (named [..]
Summertime is quickly approaching, which means barbecues, family vacations, and a lot of days sitting by the pool. While you and your loved ones enjoy the hot summer weather and cool water, it is important to keep yourself safe. In this post we will be focusing on swimming pool injuries and how to prevent them. [..]
The death of a loved one is traumatic and devastating experience— regardless of the cause. However, the ordeal can be especially upsetting if the death could have been avoided had it not been for the negligent actions of another. In Florida, surviving family members and loved ones may be able to recover compensation for [..]
Right now, all Florida drivers are required to have car insurance coverage that pays personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, but that may come to an end in 2019 if some lawmakers get their way. Florida currently operates under a “no-fault” system when it comes to paying insurance claims after a car accident. If a [..]
Florida’s summer is well underway, and the hot weather is a perfect excuse to get out on the water. With close to 900,000 registered vessels in the state, chances are that you or someone you know owns a boat and is planning to use it this season. Getting out on a lake or the ocean [..]
When you become a parent, every little decision regarding your child’s safety and development can become a hot debate. We’re not going to tell you how to raise your child, but we do have one piece of advice backed up with statistics from the AAP and NHTSA. When you are driving with your child, [..]
It’s not every day that you get into an accident and need to file a personal injury protection (PIP) suit. This type of litigation may be confusing to many, especially since PIP laws are constantly being debated and changed in Florida. However, it is possible for you to get through this process and receive [..]
What are your chances of getting hit by someone driving a rental car in Florida? Every year, the state of Florida has 15 million active drivers on its many roads and highways. About 250,000 drivers end up in car crashes annually in Florida. Since almost 85 million visitors come to enjoy Florida every year, [..]
Image: http://pixabay.com/en/dog-man-attacking-canine-training-78117/ When Pets Attack, They Can Cause Serious or Even Fatal Injuries Most people like dogs. How can you resist those adoring eyes, the wagging tail, and the warm, fuzzy head that seems to appear in your lap just when you’re feeling your lowest? So many Americans like dogs, in fact, that [..]
Car accidents can result in tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars in medical bills, lost wages, and car repairs. How is it decided who will have to pay for these damages and bills? In Florida, it usually starts with personal injury protection (PIP). If you experience damages that add up to less than [..]