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California Deer Causing Increased Vehicle Accidents


Thomas Jackson, a 59-year-old Grass Valley motorcyclist, was injured after his Harley Davidson struck a deer on Highway 49 near Auburn Road on November 7, 2008, the Sierra Sun reports. The deer was killed in the crash and Jackson was thrown off of his Harley, leaving him with injuries.

California Highway Patrol officials are reporting more and more deer versus auto collisions on California’s highways. October through November is peak deer mating season resulting in an increased number of highway collisions involving deer occur most frequently because the animals tend to be more active and mobile.

Apparently CHP officers themselves are not immune to these deer versus auto collisions. On 11/07/08, CHP patrol cars struck two different deer. In both accidents, the deer darted in front of the patrol vehicles causing the officers to swerve. Neither officer sustained any injuries, but one officer’s sport utility vehicle did become inoperable after the incident. In both cases, the deer were killed.

I’m relieved that the motorcyclist, Thomas Jackson, and the two CHP officers were not seriously hurt. I offer my best wishes to Thomas Jackson for a speedy recovery.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) estimates that there are more than 1.5 million deer versus auto collisions each year in the United States. These accidents result in at least 150 deaths every year, tens of thousands of injuries and more than $1 billion in vehicle damage. The average claim for collision damage, the IIHS estimates, is $3,000 with costs varying depending on the type of vehicle and severity of damage. Medical claims can add up very quickly to thousands of dollars.

The only coverage a motorist may have for a deer versus auto accident is the “comprehensive” coverage and “medical payments coverage” through his or her motor vehicle insurance policy. The comprehensive coverage will cover damage to the automobile minus the deductible. The medical payments coverage will reimburse covered medical expenses incurred as a result of the collision, up to the limits of the coverage. There is no other coverage generally applicable in an auto insurance policy to cover lost income, permanent disability, disfigurement, pain and suffering due to an auto versus deer accident.

The only way to guard against such a situation is to drive carefully in deer-populated areas, especially during the mating season. Here is a link to a Web site that offers some useful tips on how to avoid deer versus auto collisions.

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