Arizona is home to a diverse array of wildlife. From foxes and coyotes to mountain lions and black bears, many different animals could cross your path while driving in Arizona. If an animal causes a car accident, your car insurance will generally only cover the resulting damage if you carry comprehensive insurance. This is an optional, not required, type of car insurance in Arizona.
Arizona sees an average of 1,270 wildlife-related car crashes per year, according to data collected by the Arizona Department of Transportation. This number is growing year by year due to Arizona’s steadily increasing human population. Yet, like most states, Arizona does not require the type of car insurance that typically pays for these accidents: comprehensive coverage.
Arizona only requires third-party bodily liability and property damage insurance for drivers, which cover the losses suffered by the other party in a car accident. Liability insurance will not pay for damage caused by animals. Comprehensive insurance, on the other hand, pays for property damage caused by animals crossing the road.
Comprehensive insurance covers damage caused by something other than a collision, including damage done by animals. It also pays for damage caused by fire, bad weather, theft, vandalism and “acts of god.” While this insurance is not a legal requirement in Arizona, adding it to your auto insurance policy will cover you after a collision involving deer, cattle, livestock or other animals.
If you find out after the crash that the animal you hit was owned by someone – as is often the case with farm animals, livestock, dogs and other domestic animals – that individual may be responsible for paying for your damage. If the owner is found to have been negligent in allowing the animal to run at large, his or her insurance company should cover the costs of repairing your vehicle. Examples of negligence include:
Ranchers, farmers and pet owners in Arizona have a legal responsibility to keep their animals on their properties. Negligently allowing an animal to enter a roadway can place liability on the pet owner for a related crash. Reporting an accident involving an animal can lead to a law enforcement investigation to find the owner. If located, you can file a claim with the owner’s insurance company to pay for your property damage and any related medical bills from the accident. A Scottsdale car accident lawyer can help you assess the details of your unique case.
Check yourself and any passengers for injuries. Turn your hazard lights on to warn approaching drivers of your disabled vehicle. If a wild animal is injured, don’t approach it. Stay in your car and contact the proper authorities to safely aid the animal. First, contact the police to report the accident.
If the animal is a large game animal or one that is potentially dangerous, call the Arizona Game and Fish Department at (623) 236-7201 to contact trained wildlife rehabilitators. If you hit a dog that appears to be a stray and is now injured, contact the Arizona Humane Society at (602) 997-7585.
If you suffered any injuries, go to a hospital as soon as possible. Then, take your vehicle to a mechanic for a repair estimate. Contact the animal owner’s property insurance company to file a claim, if applicable. Finally, reach out to an attorney with experience handling car accidents involving animals in Arizona for assistance with the claims process.