Renton, WA asked in Animal / Dog Law, Environmental, Personal Injury and Insurance Defense for Washington

Q: If wildlife causes an accident are you at fault? Or domesticated animals running into traffic?

I drive rural roads with wildlife from small to big to bigger. Deer often cross the road unannounced. I often have to slam the breaks to avoid a collision. Drivers behind me get pissed and have a near miss. Rural roads = barely patrolled. So drivers go fast and will drive where ever there is road or solid ground. Occasionally drivers will try to use the shoulder or merge lane at intersections to pass. Say for example I have to come to a screeching halt for a crossing deer. The driver behind me decides to use the passing/merging/wide shoulder lane to pass and drives like an ass in the process. As they use the extra lane to pass you, they collide with the crossing deer you slammed your breaks for 30 seconds earlier. The dash cam I use would show I’m not at fault. Would I not be at fault for the accident? If one were to occur? I’ve had several close calls on this road with similar situations. I’ve asked the county to patrol it several times but they refuse to do so..

1 Lawyer Answer
Peter N. Munsing
Peter N. Munsing

A: You aren't responsible for wild animals--no one is. As far as domesticated animals, the owner of the animal is responsible for them. In the example you gave I don't see why you would be at fault--the other individual collided with the deer, not with you.

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