Motor Vehicle

Deer in the Headlights – Car Accidents Involving Animals

Approximately 1 in 5 crashes on rural roads involve wild or domesticated animals. Animals involved in car accidents commonly include Kangaroos, Wallabies, Cows and Horses.

Car Accidents Involving Wild Animals

According to statistics, there are around 10,000 collisions involving kangaroos and other wild animals every year. This makes up an astonishing 90% of all animal collisions on Australian roads.

Below are several common situations that you may find yourself in:

  1. If you are driving a car and sustain personal injuries in a car accident caused by a wild animal, as the driver of the vehicle you are not able to make a claim because there is no at-fault vehicle or CTP insurer for you to claim against.
  2. If you are driving a car and required to slam on the brakes, however, and a second car hits your from behind, you will be able to make a claim against that driver’s CTP insurer because they are at-fault for failing to maintain a reasonable distance behind your vehicle.
  3. If you are a passenger in a car and sustain personal injuries in a car accident caused by a wild animal, you are able to make a claim providing the driver of the vehicle did something negligent that caused your injuries, such as failing to keep a proper look out for the animal, failing to take reasonable action in response to the animal appearing (i.e. slowing down), or swerving into another vehicle or off the road.
  4. Lastly, if you are the driver or passenger in a separate vehicle which is hit by a drvier avoiding an animal, you will be able to make a claim against the at-fault driver’s CTP insurer because they have caused the accident.

Car Accidents Involving Livestock

In Queensland, people injured in car accidents involving livestock such as cows, sheep, pigs, are not allowed to make personal injury or property damage claims in relation to their accidents. The source of this law is an English Court of Appeal decision called Searle v Wallbank [1947] AC 341, which establishes the following rule:

“[an occupier of land adjacent to a highway is]…. under no legal obligation to users of [the highway] so to keep and maintain his hedges, fences and gates as to prevent animals from straying onto it, and he is not under any duty as between himself and users of it to take reasonable care to prevent any of his animals, not known to be dangerous, from straying onto it”.

The rule established by Searle v Wallbank has been the subject of vehement opposition for decades, but has only been abolished by Western Australia in case of Proudlove v Burridge [2017] WASCA 6. Unfortunately, the rule was upheld by the Queensland Court of Appeal in 2006, in the case of Smith v Williams & Ors [2006] QCA 439, and continues to be good law.;

That being said, a 2007 decision by the Supreme Court of Queensland called Lawes v Nominal Defendant [2007] QSC 92 has left the door open for potential claimants in situations where there is
a collision with livestock that had previously been killed on the road by another driver. The court in Lawes found that, given the high risk that another road user would collide with the dead animal (ahorse) before it could be removed, the driver that originally hit the animal had acted negligently by failing to stay and warn other road users of the accident.

Car Accident Claims

At Claimwise our mission is to help you save money on your legal fees. By starting your CTP claim with a traditional ‘No Win, No Fee’ law firm your total legal fees can end up being $10,000 or more higher than by using us.

If you or someone you know have been injured on the road in Queensland and want to keep your legal costs down, feel free to get in touch with us.

Be smart, claim wise.

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