What Happens If My Car Hits a Deer, Pedestrian, or a Building?

What Happens If My Car Hits a Deer, Pedestrian, or a Building?

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You just crashed your car into something. What happens next can range from no big deal to really bad, depending on what you hit. As a driver, there are many things you can hit with your car, but your insurance company will not treat everything the same. Below we go over some scenarios of vehicular melee you can find yourself in and how to handle each insurance-wise.

Table of contents

What happens if I hit a deer with my car (or any other large animal)?

Deer and other large animals cause thousands of dollars worth of damage to vehicles every year. There are essentially two things to know after hitting an animal.

The first is if your car is damaged, you cannot file a claim against a deer. For the damage to your car, you will most likely file the claim under your own comprehensive insurance. If you do not have comprehensive or collision insurance, however, the damage to your car will most likely have to be paid out of pocket.

If you suffered any medical costs, your only bet for getting that covered is if you have personal injury protection (PIP) or MedPay insurance.

The second is that you don’t have to worry about your rates. Crashing into an animal that causes damage to your car is not considered a "chargeable accident" to most if not all auto insurers. Your rates will stay the same even if you do not have accident forgiveness.

What to do if you hit a pedestrian with your vehicle

Hitting a pedestrian is a lot more complicated than an animal. The legal and insurance procedure of what happens after hitting another person depends on the state you live in and who was at fault.

If the person you crashed into took any sort of injury, you should call 911 and file a police report immediately. Refrain from saying anything that puts you at fault such as "I feel so guilty". Anything you say that thrusts the fault toward you can end up costing you a lot more money. If you live in a Pure Contributory state like North Carolina, in order to recoup losses from an accident, you have to be found 0% at-fault.

If the pedestrian crossed the street without looking or was standing somewhere they shouldn't have been — things that shift some blame onto them — noting these things can end up saving you from paying thousands of dollars. A police report is very important in these cases. A court or an insurance company will take the trusted word of an officer. If you live in a state like Georgia which has a less black and white system of defining fault, the matter will be trickier, most likely requiring you to hire a lawyer and fight to accurately define your fault in the accident.

If you are found at fault and need to pay for any damages, your personal injury protection or MedPay will be exhausted first if you have the coverage. If you exhaust those, or simply do not have them, then your bodily injury liability insurance will cover any medical expenses of the hit pedestrian.

What happens if I collide with another one of my cars?

Crashing into another one of your vehicles can be very troublesome depending on the structure of your auto policy.

If both cars are under the same policy with collision insurance, you may have to file a claim for both vehicles, and pay a deductible for both vehicles. In some cases, you may get lucky and your company may be courteous enough to waive the second deductible. Barring any courtesy, however, if both cars are under the same policy, its double deductible.

If only one car has collision insurance, then only one car is going to get covered. If the secondary car doesn’t carry collision insurance and is under the same policy, you will have to pay for any damages out of pocket.

If your secondary car is insured by another company, however, and as well as under your spouse’s or another resident’s name, you may actually be able to file a claim through the secondary car’s property damage liability insurance. That will cause the second car's rates to go up. You should weigh the benefits of keeping multiple cars under one company, as you may miss out on some discounts.

What happens if I crash my car into a house or building?

Crashing into a house or building is fairly straightforward as it is covered under your property damage liability insurance. Property Damage liability is required in 48 of 50 states, so almost every driver should have it. Your rates will go up after making a PD claim.

Crashing into your own house is more complicated. Presumably, you have a deductible. If the damage is extensive, as in several thousand dollars, it may be simplest to pay your homeowners deductible to cover costs to the house. Likewise, paying your deductible for your collision coverage is the simplest solution for any extensive car damage.

If you want to avoid paying a double deductible though, you may want to get a lawyer to view your home and auto policy. It is possible, but not entirely certain in every case, that you can file a claim against your car’s property damage insurance. Filing against your own PD insurance would take care of the house damage. Remember though, doing so would cause your auto rates to rise. If this more complicated option is something you are willing to pursue, you must be sure you won't be paying more in the long run.

Bailey is a Research Analyst at ValuePenguin, covering insurance. He graduated from Occidental College with a B.A. in Mathematics and a minor in Computer Science. Bailey's analysis has been featured by CNBC, the Houston Chronicle and the National Transportation Bureau Safety Board.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.