Can you be at fault for hitting a deer ? Who is at- fault ?

Request A Free Consultation

Can you be at fault for hitting a deer ? Who is at- fault ?

Motor vehicle accidents and wildlife
By: Brent Meadows

If you live in Eastern Ontario, it is not uncommon to encounter wildlife when venturing outside of the City, and sometimes within City limits. I frequently hear stories from motorists discussing close encounters with deer and other wildlife during their commutes to and from work. In the City of Ottawa, collisions with deer and other wildlife are quite common. These collisions may result in serious motor vehicle accidents causing personal injuries to those involved.  If you are involved in a wildlife motor vehicle accident there are many legal aspects to consider.

For example, what happens in a situation where someone is driving along a roadway when suddenly without warning they strike a deer causing serious injuries to the motorist? As we know in tort, you may only sue another party if they are at fault in some way. Here, it would initially appear that no party is at fault, and it is likely that there is no party liable to compensate you for injuries caused by the accident (unless the party who has jurisdiction over the highway is liable in some way). But what happens if the deer was struck by a vehicle and that same vehicle kept on driving leaving the deer injured on the roadway, and at some point later on the injured deer is struck by another vehicle causing injuries?

The Supreme Court of British Columbia recently dealt with this issue in Ziemer v. Wheeler 2014 BCSC 2049. The court noted, among other things that Mr. Wheeler failed to take any reasonable or entirely possible steps over the period of approximately 9 minutes before the third collision.  He did not return to the scene until a minimum of 21 minutes had passed.  I find that in these circumstances, his failure to take any steps to warn other motorists of the hazard posed by the moose carcass fell below the standard of care.

In conclusion, I find that Mr. Wheeler breached his duty to warn other motorists of the hazard posed by the moose carcass and that this caused the Walter-Ziemer collision. The Court held that the driver who initially struck the moose was liable as he failed to warn other drivers about the hazard.  While this case was heard in British Columbia it may have persuasive authority in Ontario. It is cases like these that demonstrate the importance of contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer who is willing to look at each and every fact to fully appreciate the compensation that you may be entitled to.

About the Author

David Hollingsworth has been a personal injury lawyer in Ottawa since 1999. David dedicates himself to helping people who have been injured in an accident, including car accidents, slip and fall accidents, motorcycle accidents, LTD claims, Accident Benefits claims and more. David and his team work closely with their clients and their families and help rebuild lives, following a traumatic accident. To learn more about David Hollingsworth, view his full profile.