In New Jersey, the odds of hitting a deer with your car are 1 in 183. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates 1.5 million car accidents nationwide each year involving deer, resulting in $1 billion in damages. Furthermore, the Highway Loss Data Institute, an affiliate of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, says that November is the peak season for crashes involving deer. Statistics indicate that collisions with deer increase in late September, peak in November and then slowly decline by February. Another increase in collisions with deer typically occurs in May and June, which is when does are often times giving birth.
As many of us know from firsthand experiences, deer are very difficult to avoid on the roadways. “Deer are most active during dawn and dusk, and this is the time of year when our major commuting hours are also at dawn and dusk,” said Lawrence Herrighty, deputy directory of New Jersey’s Division of Fish & Wildlife. He notes, “although the peak of the rut or breeding is usually a week before Thanksgiving, deer are becoming active. Male deer, particularly, will start chasing the does around, and they are not cognizant of cars as they run.”
So what happens if you are one of the many unfortunate drivers who is injured when your car hits a deer on the road? Who pays your medical bills? Let’s assume you are driving your own car that is insured in New Jersey under a standard automobile insurance policy. In that scenario, your auto insurance pays your medical bills under the part of the policy known as “personal injury protection” or PIP. PIP also is sometimes called “no-fault insurance.”
So, if you are injured in an accident with a deer while driving your own car that is insured in New Jersey under a standard insurance policy, you can get your medical bills paid by your auto insurer. Hopefully, you will never experience this situation firsthand, but please be sure to contact an experienced personal injury attorney if you have any questions regarding your PIP benefits. I would be happy to meet with you to review your insurance policy free of charge here in my firm’s Marlton, New Jersey office.