The heading of this edition of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog “Hitting a Deer or a Moose with your car” may seem like some sort of joke, or click bait; but I can assure you; it’s not.
Hitting a deer or a moose with your car is very real; hence the signage you may see on highways for “Deer or Moose Crossing”. The Minister of Transportation knows of it’s danger, and so should you.
In all of my years of practicing personal injury law, I’ve never handled a case where someone struck a deer or a moose in an urban/city setting. These cases happen in rural, forest and remote settings. And while the chances of striking a deer or a moose with your car may seem awfully remote; and perhaps laughable; these cases are nothing to joke about.
Some of the most serious injuries I’ve seen have resulted from collisions with a deer or a moose. No joke.
Why is that?
For starters, these sort of cases take place on highways or rural roads. The vehicles which hits the moose or deer is generally travelling at a high rate of speed. The faster you’re travelling, the greater the impact and the greater the chance for catastrophic injury.
Secondly, it’s important not to underestimate the size and weight of a moose. A large adult can measure anywhere from 1.4m-2.1m in height (almost 7 feet tall), and weigh up to 700kg (+1,500lbs!). The mass of the moose is not in its legs. It’s in its body. And that body is the exact height of your windshield and where your head is.
The final point is that most drivers aren’t taught what to do when they see a moose or deer on the road. Should they slow down? Should they speed up? Should they swerve? Should they brake at the last moment and then release the brake after impact? What if swerving to avoid a moose or deer means going in to oncoming traffic and causing a greater collision; or perhaps rolling into a ditch?
There aren’t that many good tips, aside from don’t speed, and don’t swerve if you’re going to cause a greater collision. But here’s an article from the National Post which provides some good insight. Where there’s one animal, you can expect to see more.
So, what happens if you sustain catastrophic injuries after colliding with a moose or a deer? What do you do?
Many prospective and past clients want to know whether or not they can sue the moose or the deer.
No: you can’t
Can I sue the Minister of Transportation for not having adequate signage or warning signs about the potential hazard for striking a moose or a deer?
Yes you can; but it will be a very difficult case to prove. There needs to be some really good evidence establishing that the Minister of Transportation knew, or ought to have known about these hazards and did nothing about it. It’s certainly possible to establish this sort of case; but it will be a hard, uphill battle to prove.
Who else can I sue?
This all depends on the facts of your case. If you are a passenger in a vehicle which strikes a moose or a deer, you can sue the driver of the vehicle. If you are alone in the vehicle, you can try to build a case against the auto manufacturer in the event that some of the preventative safety measures failed to work. You would need an engineer along with the vehicles “black box” to prove this sort of claim. They are difficult and expensive. Otherwise, it really depends on the facts of the case and the circumstances surrounding the collision itself.
In Ontario, an injured driver in a single car collision involving a moose or a deer can bring a accident benefit claim against his/her own car insurance company. This is the primary method of recovery for an accident involving a moose or a deer; because as stated above; we cannot sue a moose or a deer.
How much money (or benefits) which an accident victim receives will depend largely upon:
- The Nature/Severity of his/her injuries. The greater the injuries, the more money/benefits which will be available
- The amount of coverage purchased under the policy. Some motorists opt in and purchase additional coverage and which provide an increased level of benefits available to them
- How much money they were earning before the car accident. The more money they were making, the more money which may be available to them in the event they cannot return to work
- The level of care they require as a result of their accident related injuries. The more care required will result in the more benefits which are payable provided the attendant care is deemed to be both reasonable and necessary.
Other sources of income (or benefits) for an injured accident victim can also include:
- CPP Disability Benefits
- Ontario Disability Support Program
- EI Disability Benefits
- Short Term or Long Term Disability Benefits through a private insurer (offered through work or through a personal plan)
- Mortgage Insurance Disability Benefits; or any other private benefits (if purchased and available)
- Anything offered through OHIP like homecare through the LHIN or OHIP Funded Physio
Cases whereby the motorist strikes a deer or a moose can be devastating physically and emotionally. We also cannot underestimate the level of shame and embarrassment which may come with striking these animals. It’s a common yet uncommon occurrence if that makes any sense. It’s hard for one to explain that their injury took place as a result of a moose or deer being on the road. In that scenario, one might blame him/herself for the accident. It might be easier to live with casting the blame on another drive who we can put in to that villain role.
If you or a loved one has sustained an injury as a result of a collision with a deer, a moose, or any other animal for that matter; look no further than the professionals at Goldfinger Injury Lawyers to get you the compensation which you deserve.