Updated April 26, 2021
In State Farm’s annual animal collision study, Indiana ranks 24th on the list of states where drivers are most likely to have a collision with a deer. Although position 24 may not sound very high, look at it this way: Drivers have a nearly 1 in 100 chance of being involved in a car crash with in Indiana between 2020 and 2021.
A car colliding with a deer can cause serious property damage and injury to the driver and other occupants of the vehicle. Or, in an even worse scenario, the driver could swerve into another car, leading to additional injuries and damage. Understanding the dangers of deer on the roadways and how to avoid collisions with these animals will help keep you, your passengers, and others on the road safe.
According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR), deer are common throughout the state and can adapt to many landscapes and habitat conditions. Male deer weigh an average of 175 lbs. and female deer weigh 120 lbs. on average. Deer can run up to 35 miles per hour and jump a distance of eight feet.
Hitting a deer always has the potential for causing injury to you, passengers, and surrounding vehicles. You will likely have car damage from hitting a deer, too. Between their size, speed, hooves, and antlers, there is a possibility that major damages, serious injuries, or even death may occur.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there were 185 total deaths due to car accidents involving animals in 2019. Approximately 1.5 million deer/car accidents were claimed with insurance companies in the United States between 2020-2021. Collisions can lead to minor or major injuries such as whiplash, fractures, or cuts.
Swerving to avoid a deer can be much worse than hitting a deer. Swerving can result in colliding head-on with another vehicle or crashing into stationary objects. These car accidents can lead to severe injury and even fatalities.
When you strike a deer in your car, the cost of repairs will likely be between $2,000 and $6,000. In a study done by State Farm, the national average claim for auto/deer collisions in 2017 was $4,179. Even if you don’t see damages, check with a mechanic after a deer accident to see if your car is functioning correctly. This same rule applies to deer/truck accidents, as well.
In Indiana, you must report any crash where there is more than $1000 worth of damages or if someone is injured to the police. If you are wondering who to call when you hit a deer, we encourage you to call the police for a police report regardless of damages.
The first step in preventing a collision with a deer is to be aware of their behavior.
Deer are most active from October through December. Because of this, there are more Indiana auto accidents involving deer during this time of year.
Deer are more active at dawn and dusk. This fact, along with the low light, results in a higher number of accidents during this time of day.
Deer are most commonly found in heavily wooded areas and rural areas. They are also likely to be encountered near areas where deer hunting is illegal, such as in subdivisions, state parks, national parks, and nature preserves.
Deer almost never travel alone. If you see one deer, there is a good chance that others are close by, so remain aware.
If you travel on roadways where deer are commonly present, driving with caution is of utmost importance. The following safety tips on how to avoid hitting a deer can help you to be aware and remain safe on Indiana roads.
As a driver, a first instinct may be to avoid whatever is on the road. Yet, swerving can result in injuries or fatalities. Hitting the deer is better than swerving, which could cause you to drive into a ditch, flip your car, or crash into something far worse than a deer, such as another vehicle or person. Slowing down and hitting the deer is safer than swerving out of the way. It’s important to maintain control of the vehicle and stay on the road.
If you are driving in an area that is indicated as highly populated with deer, slow down. We are often asked if you should speed up to try to scare the deer off the road. You should, in fact, do the opposite. Slowing down is an important step in how to avoid hitting a deer.
Be aware of road signs that indicate a higher likelihood of deer in the area. These signs are present in areas where there are known deer crossings and an increased deer population.
When driving at night, use your high beams when it is safe to do so. This will increase your ability to see in front of you as well as to the sides of the road, where deer are more likely to come from.
If you happen to be involved in an Indiana auto accident with a deer, follow these steps for what to do if you hit a deer:
If you have the proper permit, you have the right to keep the deer in Indiana. You may also consider donating the deer to a food bank. Participating deer processors will accept and process the donated deer at no cost. The cost of butchering is covered by the Sportsman’s Benevolence Fund, and the meat will go to those in need.
The typical insurance claims for deer/car accidents are covered under comprehensive insurance. Comprehensive coverage protects when damages occur that do not involve other vehicles. In order for comprehensive coverage to apply, your vehicle must collide with the deer. Damages from swerving would be considered collision coverage. Note that comprehensive coverage requires you to pay a deductible.
This depends on your insurance company. With comprehensive coverage, it is not typical for premiums to increase, yet claim frequency may affect your insurance rates.
If you hit a deer, your insurance will likely consider the accident a random event. Deer accidents are considered not-at-fault accidents, or no-fault accidents, since you have little control over the situation.
Indiana requires you to hold the Indiana 25/50/10 liability coverage, at minimum. If you do not have insurance or are underinsured, Indiana requires auto insurance providers to cover drivers with UM/UIM coverage, or uninsured and underinsured motorists. Speak with your insurance agent if you hit a deer and your insurance does not cover it.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident because of another driver’s negligence, contact an Indianapolis auto accident attorney from Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The lawyers at WKW can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
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