Car AccidentsWhen is an Animal Liable for Causing a Car Accident?

November 23, 20230

Have you ever been driving along the road and had to either swerve or brake for an animal? Well, if you answered yes, you’ve come to the right place. Car accidents happen all the time, but it is sometimes the case that animals are to blame, and not humans. What can you do in circumstances like these? Cassisi Law is here to discuss and inform on this topic.

Are These Kinds of Accidents Common?

The short version is no, road accidents caused by animals are not super common on American roads. They may account for a small percentage of collisions, but they are still relevant enough to discuss in order to raise awareness. If an accident of this nature does take place, then it will likely be a single vehicle style crash, but that doesn’t mean the injuries won’t be significant. What can you do if you crash into an animal and are now facing life with serious injuries and medical bills to pay?

Wild Animals

When a wild animal causes a crash, it is a tricky situation for all. Nobody owns them, so nobody can assume accountability. This means, there is no person to pursue for compensation and you must rely, instead, on your insurance policy. This is why it’s always worth checking your cover before you sign up for a car policy because random occurrences such as wild animals causing crashes do happen.


Livestock are somewhere between wild animals and pets, but they can still cause road accidents if they want to. They can escape from fields, wander into the road, and even find their way into built up areas in some cases. Livestock vehicle damage is often severe, and if it is the case that your car has been damaged or you crashed and livestock was to blame, it should be easy to find the owner and prove accountability.

Pets of Someone Else

There are two different circumstances where pets can cause car accidents. Firstly, when they are running about on the road, and secondly, when they are in the car and cause a distraction. There is clear guidance for anyone driving with an animal in their vehicle regarding how to secure it, but it doesn’t always translate into reality.

Situation One

A pet runs out onto the street because they have wriggled free from their owner. They are chasing something and your car just happens to be in their path. You brake, you swerve, you crash into oncoming traffic, an object like a tree, or a group of pedestrians. What do you do? It is obvious beyond words that the owner is liable here. They lost control of their animal, and this is against the law. This is typically the case for dogs, but cats are another ballpark entirely because of their general agency in the big wide world.

Situation Two

A dog is sitting in the front seat while their owner drives down the highway. You are sitting in your vehicle coming the other way. The dog suddenly decides to jump across the owner’s lap, in search of a fly buzzing around the car. The owner is then forced to swerve, or lose control of the vehicle in some other way and crashes straight into you. Any damages in this situation are the responsibility of the pet’s owner who caused the crash.

Your Own Animal

In the same way as someone else’s pet can cause a car accident, it is possible for your own dog or household animal to do the same thing. Maybe you forgot to lock the side gate and they escaped, or they were not secured properly in your car and caused you to lose control. If any of these things happen, then you would actually be completely liable for any damages that happen afterward. Even if it was a completely unintentional thing, you would still assume the responsibility for working through the aftermath with the victims.

How to Proceed

There are a few things you must do after an incident like this takes place. The first step is to get in touch with our team because we will be able to spend some time going over the details and legal nuances relevant to these cases with you during our first appointment. It will be impossible to navigate the process without an attorney by your side, so this is your primary focus for the time being.


The biggest piece of evidence you will need for car accidents that involve an animal is eyewitness statements. These are the people who saw what happened and are willing to put that into an official statement for your insurance claim or lawsuit.

Locating the Owner

The next step, if you haven’t managed it already, is to locate the owner of the animal. They may not be willing to come forward to accept liability. If this is the case, our team can and will work hard to find out who they are so that justice can be brought to the table. Owners sometimes deny all knowledge and responsibility, but this is not an option after a crash has taken place.

Figuring Out a Settlement Figure

There will always be a discussion of what you want to do in terms of defining a settlement figure. It is not a one size fits all kind of thing, and each settlement offered to the victim of car crashes is personal to their circumstances. We will need to figure out how severe your injuries are and how your life has been impacted and go from there.

Cassisi law firm is set up to support NY residents after a car accident involving an animal. Whether it is a case of finding out who is responsible or determining the facts of the matter, we are here to help. No one should feel alone after a car crash, and it can be hard to figure out who to turn to for advice when something like an animal is to blame.

Find our office here at 10208 101st Ave Ozone Park, NY 11416.

Or call now for a free consultation on (718) 441-5050.