Much of California is rural and though you may reside in a large metropolitan city, to drive to nearly any destination in the West is to travel through extensive farmland. The scenery may be beautiful, but it can be dangerous and costly should any large livestock meander into your path. If you have been in an accident involving a livestock, speak with an auto accident lawyer in Stockton.
Any animal kept by humans for commercial purposes is considered livestock. And although they all range in size and weight, colliding with a livestock at the maximum state speed of 70 mph can do serious damage to your vehicle and any person inside. For example, there are over 5 million cows in the state of California, each with an average weight of 2000 pounds. Hitting an animal of this magnitude could be fatal. Other types of livestock that could be involved in an accident are:
- Cows (avg 2000 lbs)
- Horses (avg 1520 lbs)
- Pigs (avg 690 lbs)
- Donkeys (avg 645 lbs)
- Llamas (avg 365 lbs)
- Goats (avg 175 lbs)
Under California law, there is no presumption of liability of the owner of livestock in the case of a motor collision with a loose animal. However, there is a law establishing that an owner of livestock shall not intentionally or negligently allow their animal to stray upon or remain unattended at a highway if there is property on both sides of the highway that is separated from such highway by a fence, sidewalk, etc. Essentially, an individual is not allowed to let their animals roam free on the highway, so long as there is some physical barrier between the highway and land. Even if an individual lets a livestock roam freely, fault still has to be established, as is with all car accidents. Speak with an auto accident lawyer in Stockton for help.
Possible collisions due to loose livestock
Directly hitting a livestock animal is not the only scenario possible when there is a collision caused by loose livestock. The following incidents may be considered eligible for compensation:
- Direct encounter with livestock animal
- Being rear-ended when making sudden stops to avoid loose livestock
- Colliding with an inanimate object such as a fence post or light-post due to a swerving out of the way of the animal
- Colliding with a vehicle in another lane due to swerving out of the way of the animal
How to establish fault?
When establishing fault, an auto accident lawyer in Stockton will often turn to the laws of negligence to build a case.
To establish fault with the defendant, an attorney will work to prove the following:
- This incident would not normally occur without careless or negligent behavior.
- This incident was caused by something under the exclusive control of the defendant.
- No voluntary act on behalf of the plaintiff caused this incident.
What to do immediately after a livestock incident
To make a strong case, it is important to gather as much information as possible from the very beginning. After the incident, stay calm and check yourself and others for injury. If there was a collision with another vehicle, exchange information with the other driver and follow normal post-collision protocol. After you ensure that no one is injured, try to write down a summary of what you remember happening. If anyone else stops, ask them to give an account of what they saw. Try to determine where the livestock came from if it is not immediately evident. Check to see if there is a fence, hedge, or another barrier between the farmland and the highway. It’s a good idea to take pictures of the scene of the collision including the fencing. Give all evidence to an auto accident lawyer in Stockton.
Other possible defendants
Depending on investigations relating to initial cause of the livestock’s presence in your car’s path, the following individuals could be found liable for damages:
- Individual responsible for taking care of the animal at the time of the incident
- Person responsible for fence or border maintenance
In establishing this fault, it is important that there is an assessment of the fencing around the highway and that a livestock behaviorist is consulted.
Speak With An Auto Accident Lawyer In Stockton About Your Auto Accident
If you have been in a collision with or due to a stray livestock animal, you should contact an auto accident lawyer in Stockton immediately as you may be entitled to compensation for damage to yourself or your properties. Contacting an attorney with knowledge and experience will help you get the compensation you deserve. Call an attorney today for a free consultation!