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What to Do if You Hit a Deer on the Road

What to do if you hit a deer with your vehicle. If I kill a deer by accidentally hitting it with my car, can I keep the deer for meat? Who do you need to phone if you run over a deer. Should you try to help an injured deer? How to avoid collisions with wildlife? Who do I notify if I hit a deer? Do you have to report hitting a deer on the road?

Although deer are not very big they can do a lot of damage to a vehicle in the event of a collision. Lower cars, and those traveling at higher speeds will see the most damage. In some cases damage can be quite severe if the deer is lifted up and brought into the windshield itself. Overall the experience can be very traumatic, but knowing what to do can make things a little smoother if it should happen to you.

Should You Avoid Hitting the Deer?

Although in many cases you do not get a warning, the deer jumping onto the road so quickly, you should not necessarily swerve to avoid them. Depending on your insurance your deductible for hitting a deer and hitting the ditch might be very different. Additionally by swerving you have a greater risk of hitting another vehicle, flipping your car, and getting yourself hurt.

Instead try to brake slowly, honking your horn, or flashing your headlights if possible.

What to do if you Hit the Deer

Pull over the the side of the road and turn on your hazard lights.

If you drive in rural areas where deer are common it is very helpful to have a cell phone. After the collision you need to call the local police, in Canada call the RCMP. If your car is not drivable call for roadside assistance (tow truck). You will need to determine where the vehicle is to be taken. Your insurance agent should also be called ( when accidents happen at night this call will be made the following day).

Depending on the amount of damage to your car and area you live, you may be required to file a police report in addition to phoning it in. This involves you going to the police station (assuming they did not attend the accident) with your drivers license, registration, and proof of insurance).

Depending on where you live you may be entitled to claim the deer if it has been killed however you must be careful in removing it from the road. In some cases the deer will run away, either surviving, or dying of internal injuries later. If alive and struggling, the police, or RCMP, will usually kill it and remove it from the road. If you are not claiming the meat, or not allowed to, and the deer is blocking the road, the police should be called to remove it from the road, you should not risk your life by trying to move it yourself. Also note that injured animals can be very dangerous.

In most areas where you can claim the meat (such as Michigan and Louisiana) you must report the kill.  If this is not arranged through the police, they will tell you where to phone.

Note that if you do not have a cell phone you should never get into a vehicle with another person, instead instruct them to call the police for you. After the police arrive you can arrange for a tow truck.

Always stay in the vehicle until police arrive. You will be safer with your seat belt on at this time in case you are hit by another vehicle.

Then What?

Your insurance agent will send an adjuster out to look at the vehicle and assess the damage and process your claim. This may take several days. Your insurance might have provisions for a rental car while yours is being repaired, but not always.

Other Reading

What to do When you Find an Abandoned Fawn

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Comments (5)

We have way too many deer in northwest NJ where I live. A women from the next town over was killed when she hit a deer and it went through her windshield a few years back. Luckily, I've only grazed a deer once. You have to always watch out for them and slow way down when you see them on the road or near it.

I've always wondered what the correct procedure was in a case like that.

Thanks.

Good info Branda. The first thing I would probably do is cry. They are such pretty animals. 

We don't have deer in my hometown but the article is eye opening for me. Thanks!

Well done, Brenda. I have only had one close encounter of the vehicular kind with a deer and it ran into me, I didn't run into it. It happened on Northway in upstate New York a few years back. It was at dawn and it ran into the driver's side of my car, taking out the driver's side door window before going over the top of my car. Miraculously neither one of us was seriously injured in that encounter. I called the State Police who called the wildlife people who sent someone out to check the deer out. They transported it to a wildlife refuge center to treat some minor cuts that it had sustained and then released it back into the wilds. I wasn't hurt at all, but I di end up having to replace the window in the door, a cracked windshield, and repainting  my car because of all the scratches Bambi did with its hooves as it went over the car.

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