This time of the year, statistics and anecdotal general knowledge both confirm that motorists right across the state are more likely to have a collision with a deer. Happily for the people involved, human life is rarely at risk. Unhappily for the deer, they usually end up dead or seriously injured.
As far as humans are concerned, the worst accidents are those that are caused when a vehicle driver swerves to avoid a deer leaping across a road, but hitting another vehicle entirely. The occupants of the other vehicle may be wondering who to blame if they are injured. They can hardly blame the deer, especially if it’s already deceased, but can they blame the other driver. Should they just shrug it off and hope they are fully insured? And what can Michigan drivers do to avoid hitting a deer in the Fall?
Deer vehicle collision basics
Deer vehicle collisions are so commonplace in many states that they even have their own acronym, a DVC. Last year, according to Michigan State Police statistics, there were 46,870 DVCs across the state. If that sounds rather a lot, it’s actually not as bad as 2015, but according to police, the real numbers may be a lot higher as many people don’t bother reporting a DVC, especially if there is little or no damage to the vehicle and no-one apart from the deer was injured.
Last year, 14 people were killed in Michigan as a result of DVCs and 1,240 were injured. There is no indication from this data exactly how many deaths and injuries are caused when one driver tries to avoid the deer and hits another vehicle.
Deer collisions are a possibility at any time of the year, but seem to be most common in November. This may be because this time of the year is mating season and deer are generally more active. Collisions happen most frequently at dusk and dawn and on two lane country roads in places where deer are known to be common.
The Michigan deer herd has had its ups and downs over the years, but has grown in recent years, partly because of lack of natural predators. Human deer interactions have increased because of increased residential housing and traffic density in traditional deer habitat.
Avoiding DVCs the best strategy
There are ways to avoid a deer vehicle collision or at least deal with it as best you can. It is how you deal with a deer collision or potential deer collision that will determine whether another driver sues you for a personal injury.
If you are driving on a Michigan country road, especially a smaller highway, you can expect that a deer could bolt out of the side of the road in front of you. If you are driving on unfamiliar roads, look out for deer warning signs and keep a sharp look out on the road ahead, especially the sides of the road where sometimes deer congregate to graze on roadside grass verges.
Make sure for your own safety and that of anyone in your vehicle that you are wearing seat belts and avoid all temptation to respond to your cell phone.
If you think that a collision is unavoidable, try not to move out of your lane. It may seem cruel, but hitting a deer is still safer for you and other road users than swerving violently and hitting another road user. Treat a road in a high deer population area like you might treat a road with ice or snow on it. If you slow down and keep a sharp look out, it is unlikely that you will have an accident.
Personal injury claims and deer vehicle accidents
You may be entitled to a personal injury claim if you have been hit by another driver who has caused an accident through his or her own negligence. The fact that the driver may have been trying to avoid a deer collision makes the accident situation more difficult to characterize. If the driver reacted unreasonably, or you have proof that the driver was speeding at the time or had been using a cell phone or was distracted at the time of the DVC, you may have better grounds for making a claim against the driver.
If you are considering a personal injury claim after being hit by a DVC driver, talk to a car accident attorney at Abood Law, in either our East Lansing or Birmingham offices.