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What to do when an animal gets hit by a car

Published on Apr 16, 2021 | Last updated Apr 15, 2021 5 minute read

What to do when an animal gets hit by a car

When you think of a typical car accident, many of us associate it with a vehicle vs. vehicle type of incident. However, that is not always the case! Whether you live in a rural or suburban area, or are driving day or night, you could easily get in an accident that involves an animal.

These types of situations can be very upsetting and traumatic. Nobody wants to be involved in a road collision involving an animal, especially if it’s somebody’s beloved pet. In any case, if you are properly equipped, you can respond humanely while also addressing any potential insurance and legal repercussions.

Follow these steps if you ever find yourself in the unfortunate incident of hitting an animal on the road while driving.

1. Ensure you are safe, reduce further risks

Animals are unpredictable – you never know when a critter will run onto the road while you’re driving. This is why it’s important to plan ahead and make sure you put your own personal safety first. If you get into any sort of accident with an animal, follow these safety precautions:

  • Immediately pull off the road if possible, or as soon as it is safe to do so.
  • Turn on your hazard lights.
  • If the animal is lying in the road, direct your headlights towards it so other drivers can see it.
  • Do not approach the animal—an injured animal can be very dangerous.
  • Don’t drive off before thoroughly checking your vehicle for leaking fluid, smoke, or missing parts. If you need to, call a tow truck.

Even though it may be enticing to get out and help the animal, it can be very dangerous to do so. This is especially true if the animal is still alive. Animal control will be able to help you, and the police can put their lights on to notify other drivers that the animal is in the middle of the road.

2. Gather information

If you’re involved in any type of accident, including an accident involving an animal, it’s important to gather as much information as possible. You might need to provide it to your insurance company if you need to make a claim.

Some details that you should gather in a situation like this can include photos of the animal(s), photos of your surroundings and of any damages that may have occurred, video recordings, witness statements and witness contact information.

3. Call the police if necessary

Canadian provinces have varying laws when it comes to car accidents that involve hitting a wild or domestic animal. Err on the side of caution and always notify the local authorities if such accidents occur.

Notifying the police is crucial if there are any damages to your vehicle or injuries sustained in the collision. You may be required to fill out a police report. If a police report is issued, your insurance company may request it.

Notify the police if any of the following incidents occur:

  • If you hit a large animal and it is in the middle of traffic and hazardous to other drivers.
  • If you need to file an accident report due to damages or injuries, call the police to assist you in filing a report.
  • If you need assistance moving the animal.
  • If the animal is still alive and needs to be taken to a veterinarian where it can receive care.

Note: unless someone is seriously injured, you do not need to call 911. You can call the non-emergency line or 311.

4. Call your insurance provider

In addition to calling the police, you should call your insurance broker as soon as possible if there is damage to your car. Your broker may ask you to send photos, detail exactly what happened and report on any injuries. If you call your insurance provider as soon as you can, you’ll be able to recall all necessary details more clearly. The sooner you report damages, the sooner you can receive assistance.

If your auto insurance policy includes comprehensive coverage, you may be covered in the event of hitting an animal while driving. Speak with your broker today to see if comprehensive coverage is included on your policy.

Get in touch with a BrokerLink broker today!

It’s important to have the right coverage in place when the unexpected happens. Professional advice from BrokerLink's experienced insurance brokers can help guide you through an unexpected event like this. Whether you’re involved in an accident with another person or with an animal, BrokerLink will help guide you through the claims process.

It’s easy to get in touch with a BrokerLink insurance advisor!

FAQs about what to do when an animal gets hit by a car

Who do you call for dead animals on the road?

If you get into an accident with an animal and need assistance moving it off the road, you should call the police to help you. Never touch an animal yourself, as it could be dangerous. Once the police arrive, they can help to redirect any traffic, get in touch with animal control, or bring the animal to a veterinarian if necessary.

If you hit an animal, what kind of documentation do you have to provide?

If you hit an animal and it causes damage to your car, it is extremely important you document the scene as much as possible. Take photos of your car and the animal, ask any witnesses for statements and contact information, and even take videos if you can. Providing this kind of information and documentation to your insurance provider will help them to better process your claim. Photos may also be beneficial in the event that a lawsuit filed is against you by the animal’s owners.

Should you stop driving if you hit a wild animal?

If you hit an animal while driving, you should pull over immediately, or as soon as it is safe to do so. Once pulled over, turn on your hazard lights, and direct your high beams towards the animal if it is laying in oncoming traffic. Assess yourself and your vehicle for any injuries or damages, and call the police if necessary.