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Should You Swerve to Avoid a Deer?

Deer standing on rural road in daylight

Most Western New York drivers have encountered a deer in the road at one time or another. Maybe you’ve seen a family of them run across a rural road in the early morning. Or maybe you’ve had a deer start crossing the highway, lock eyes with you, and then stop in its tracks. That raises a frightening question: Should you swerve to avoid hitting a deer?

The Risk of Swerving

Swerving to avoid an animal can be just as dangerous as hitting it head-on, especially in wooded areas. If you jerk the wheel, there’s a possibility you could either spin out, hit another vehicle, or collide with a tree.

If you hit another vehicle, you’d likely be liable for the damages. Additionally, striking a fixed object (like a sign or a tree) has a significantly higher chance of causing a fatality.

The Risks of Staying the Course

Staying in your lane has its own risks. If you hit the deer, the animal might become caught in the windshield, potentially causing the driver to be in a worse crash as they lose control. Similarly, if hooves come through the glass, the deer might kick the driver as it struggles to escape.

If you stay in your lane, there are ways you can reduce the impact or prevent the crash altogether. If you see a deer in the road, you should do two things.

  1. Firmly apply the brakes, thus reducing the force of impact and decreasing the chance of the deer coming through the windshield.

  2. Use your horn. A loud noise approaching may convince the deer to move out of the road.

The Verdict

Whether you hit the deer or swerve into a tree, you’ll likely need to rely on your own insurance to cover the damages. That said, staying in your lane and using the methods described above gives you the best chance of avoiding a crash without endangering other drivers.

Hitting another vehicle or causing other property damage could complicate your case and make it much harder to earn the damages you’re entitled to. With so much on the line, it’s crucial that anyone involved in a car accident with a deer contact an attorney to negotiate the case on their behalf.

If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries in a car crash, our Rochester car accident attorneys are here to help. If you’d like to schedule a free case consultation with an experienced attorney from Faraci Lange, LLP, please don’t hesitate to send us an email or call (888) 997-4110. We’re here to help.