Grimes & Fertitta, P.C.

Why hunters should stay alert during the season

If you're like a lot of Texans, you live in the city where land is expensive and hard to find. You jump on the chance to get in your car and travel out into the country to hunt. You may have part or full ownership in a deer lease, have a friend who owns hunting land or have another way to get out into the wilderness and hunt.

But... just who is hunting whom?

Over one-third of animal related vehicle accidents occur in the fall, making it seem as though the animals might be hunting the hunters, too. Getting into an animal-related accident in Texas is usually more than hitting a squirrel on the highway. Coming into contact with a big animal can really damage your vehicle.

Why so many accidents in the fall?

Migration patterns are one of the big reasons that there are many animal-related accidents in the fall months. September through November is a busy time for many animals, as they prepare to move from the area where they spend their summers to the location where they'll wait out the winter months.

These animals don't follow traffic laws, or understand that there are vehicles in a certain area that they need to avoid. Instead, they'll run across the road in front of your car, or jump out in front of your truck. Small animals don't do a lot of damage, but larger ones can hurt your vehicle and cause you to be injured, as well.

How you can reduce your risk

Staying off the road is a surefire way to avoid any accidents, but that option is far from realistic. Instead, you'll need to look at ways you can reduce your risk.

One of those ways is to avoid driving when animals are the most active. That's generally at dusk and at dawn. Driving during the day is a better choice to help you avoid animal collisions. You will also want to limit your distractions. So, put away your cellphone, set your radio and get your GPS ready before you leave your driveway.

Keeping your speed down and staying in the middle on a multi-lane road can help, as well.

What happens if you hit an animal?

Knowing local laws about hitting an animal is important. Make sure you report the collision to any necessary authorities. Then you will probably want to talk to your insurance company if there is damage to your vehicle.

Smaller animals probably won't cause damage, but if you hit something like a deer it's possible that you won't be able to drive your vehicle afterward. You may need to have it towed and repaired. Before you head out to go hunting is a good time to check your insurance coverage, just to be sure you're ready.

Last, check with an attorney if anyone was injured in the accident. In some cases, often involving cattle, negligence may be a factor.

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