Last month, Emmet resident Alma Sanchez died of severe head trauma when her vehicle collided with a horse while traveling southbound on Highway 16. After hitting the horse, she veered off the highway and struck a rock berm. Her two passengers received minor injuries. Another vehicle came upon the scene just moments later and flipped over after striking the same horse, with the driver and a passenger receiving also receiving minor injuries.
In Idaho, livestock owners are not responsible for keeping their animals off the road in open range areas. However, if an animal is found wandering outside the pasture in a recognized herd district, the owner may have liability if someone is injured or property is damaged. In the auto accident involving Ms. Sanchez, the horse was in a herd district.
idaho has worked on preventing collisions with wild animals too. By, for example, installing wildlife underpasses on some of the state’s main highways. These features are designed to allow deer, elk, bear and other animals to cross freely without endangering drivers. Extensive fencing is used to route animals to the correct path.
If you are traveling in an area without a wildlife underpass, the best thing you can do is to pay attention to the shoulder of the road. Animals that are on the shoulder of the road may suddenly attempt to flee by jumping into the road when your vehicle approaches. Be especially cautious during the dawn, dusk and nighttime hours, as this is when animals are most likely to be on the move. Keep watch for reflecting eyes as you are traveling down the road.
You have to evaluate quickly whether it makes sense to swerve if an animal collision seems imminent. Swerving often leads to greater damage from colliding with another vehicle or rolling into the ditch than hitting an animal would have. It is frequently best to just lock your brakes and duck low behind the dashboard. Certainly moose, which are in many parts of Idaho, are an exception to this rule. An adult moose can weigh as much as 1,600 pounds, which increases the risk of serious injury.
Contacting an Attorney
If you or someone you love has been injured in a motor vehicle accident involving a collision with an animal, a personal injury attorney can help protect your legal rights. Compensation may be available for medical expenses, rehabilitation and pain and suffering. The attorneys at Holzer Edwards are dedicated to representing Idaho families and individuals who have been injured due to the negligence of others. Please give us a call today at (208) 386-9119 or toll-free at (888) 490-0992 for a free consultation.