The Mississippi Department of Transportation is warning drivers to take extra precautions to avoid deer-vehicle collisions. White-tailed deer are more active and visible on the roadways this time of year, as the temperatures get colder, the days get shorter and rutting season begins.
According to MDOT, there are more than 3,000 deer-related crashes each year in Mississippi, and the crashes peak during the fall and winter seasons. No one wants a collision with a deer to ruin their holiday cheer, so keep these safety tips from MDOT and the Mississippi Highway Patrol in mind:
- Never swerve on the highway to avoid hitting a deer. This can cause you to lose control of the vehicle and result in an even more serious accident, potentially with another car.
- Use extreme caution at dawn and dusk, when deer movement peaks. Also use added caution where deer signs are posted because these are known deer crossings.
- If you see one deer, look for others. Deer often travel together, so if you see one, there are likely more to come.
- When there is no oncoming traffic, use your vehicle's high beams at night, which make the animals easier to spot. Their eyes can be spotted in the ditch.
- Always wear a seatbelt and follow posted speed limits. A collision will be less serious if you follow these laws.
A Highway Patrol spokesman said deer-vehicle accidents are most common on two-lane state highway and four-lane U.S. highways, but they have occurred on interstates as well. The bottom line is that drivers should always be on the lookout and prepared to stop.
Does insurance cover deer-vehicle collisions?
Your auto insurance will only cover the damage caused in a deer-vehicle collision if your policy includes comprehensive coverage, because insurance companies do not consider run-ins with animals to be "collisions."
However, if you swerved to miss the deer and ended up in an accident, then it would be considered a collision claim falling under your collision coverage, if you carry it.
Many deer-vehicle accidents result in serious damage to the vehicle and, in some cases, serious injuries or even death for the driver and/or passengers. Call a personal injury lawyer for help if your insurer is being difficult or unfair.
In cases involving serious injuries or fatalities, it's very important to work with a personal injury lawyer who can make sure that the insurance company provides full and fair compensation.
It is also important to speak to a lawyer after being involved in an accident caused by another driver who was swerving to avoid a deer in the road.