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Will my insurance cover vehicle damage from a deer car accident?

October 31, 2014 by Steven M. Gursten

Hunting season starts November 15 in Michigan


Deer hunting starts November 15 in Michigan, and archery season has been in effect since October 1.

With this unfortunately comes more car accidents involving drivers who hit deer.  Actually, a staggering amount of car accidents.

In 2013, there was nearly 50,000 traffic crashes involving deer in Michigan, according to the Michigan State Police. That is not a typo. And while I’ve seen my share of drunk drivers who blame a “deer” for veering in front of them as they come home from the bars, cross the center-line and hit my clients head-on, the vast majority of these are really deer.

As an  auto accident attorney in Michigan, you get to see a lot of car accidents that have involved deer, whether they’re serious injuries to drivers in one-car crashes that involve claims for attendant care, or cases where drivers are hit by other drivers who swerve from deer.  The most frequent calls I receive are from  people who were hurt in deer-car accidents and are asking about vehicle damage.

Will your auto insurance cover vehicle damage from a deer-car accident?

So, not to leave you in suspense. The answer is yes, your insurance will cover vehicle damage from a deer car accident –  if you have purchased the optional comprehensive car insurance coverage.

Comprehensive car insurance covers damages to your car caused by something other than a collision with another car, such as fire, theft, vandalism, hail or flooding. It also pays for damage caused by hitting an animal, such as a deer.

Here’s the thing: Comprehensive car insurance is not required by law in Michigan. It’s an optional coverage that you can add onto your own car insurance policy. It is usually purchased with collision coverage.

It’s best to talk to your insurance agent about your policy to make sure you’re properly covered.  I always recommend purchasing comprehensive coverage when buying insurance, as well as uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.  If you have further questions, feel free to call one of our attorneys for free advice. We understand reading insurance policies can be tough, and we’re happy to help.

Don’t veer for deer!

And please remember, don’t veer for deer! The most dangerous thing you can do is swerve your car or slam on the brakes to avoid a deer. It may sound harsh, but it’s better to hit the deer than it is to kill yourself, a passenger or another driver by veering into oncoming traffic, hitting a tree or getting rear-ended.

What to do? The best way to avoid a deer-car accident is to try to slow down if you have time, but don’t brake sharply. Stay in your lane. If you don’t have time to safely slow down before an impact, then hit the deer.

For more information, take a look at my blog post with six tips to prevent deer car crashes.

Michigan statistics for deer car accidents

Of the nearly 50,000 traffic crashes involving deer in Michigan, 1,087 resulted in injury, according to the Michigan State Police. And 12 of these crashes were fatalities.

Over the past five years, the number of Michigan crashes involving deer has steadily declined. Yet in 2013 there was a slight increase.

In terms of overall crashes in 2013, here are the five counties with the highest numbers:

Oakland – 1,801 deer car crashes
Jackson – 1,480 deer car crashes
Kent – 1,447 deer car crashes
Lapeer – 1,229 deer car crashes
Eaton – 1,076 deer car crashes

Unfortunately, Oakland County has held the top spot for deer crashes over the past several years, this past year even far surpassing the next county. With a high population as well as many areas of north Oakland County still very rural, this might not come as a surprise to most living in the area.

Related information:

Preventing deer motorcycle accidents

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