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Do You Need to Report Hitting a Deer in Wisconsin?

February 20, 2019 |

Deer can seem to be an ever-present road hazard throughout Wisconsin. They are particularly prevalent in the fall and winter seasons when they lose some of their cover because of crop harvesting and begin mating season. In fact, November, October, and December rank as the top three most likely months to strike a deer in an accident in the United States. Here in Wisconsin, the odds of hitting a deer are one in 77 according to State Farm, putting the state in the high-risk category.

With so many Wisconsinites hitting deer every year, questions often surface involving what to do after a deer-related accident. Our Milwaukee car accident lawyers created this guide to provide some insight regarding your proper course of action both before and after you hit a deer.

What Steps Should You Take When You Encounter a Deer?

As mentioned, deer are more frequently spotted on Wisconsin roads during the mating season in the late fall and early winter months. During this time of year, keep an eye out for deer emerging from newly harvested fields particularly at dusk and dawn; keep your high beams on when possible. A good rule of thumb is that if you spot one deer, more are sure to follow – stay vigilant even after a deer crosses the road.

Should a deer enter the road in front of you, Wisconsin State Patrol recommends slowing down but do not brake so suddenly that drivers behind you may hit you. Similarly, avoid swerving into oncoming traffic or into the ditch to avoid hitting a deer. Instead, apply steady brake pressure and hit the deer if it is unavoidable without involving other vehicles.

If you strike a deer, pull off to the side of the road and away from the flow of traffic. If possible, remain in your vehicle, particularly during times of low light such as dusk and dawn; turn on hazard lights to alert other drivers of your presence. Once you are safely positioned, contact authorities.

When Should You Report Accidents?

In general, the state of Wisconsin requires drivers to report to police any accident that has one or more of the following elements.

  • Injury or death of one or more people.
  • At least $1000 in damages to any one person’s property.
  • At least $200 in damages to government property.
  • Death or injury of wildlife.

An incident in which you hit a deer may result in more than one of the above elements being true. Property damage to vehicles can add up quickly, and deer are large enough to cause significant damage to your car or potentially cause a scenario where your accident is severe enough to injure you or a passenger.

Further, any incident where wildlife is dead or injured on the roadway poses a threat to other vehicles that may travel that way in the future. Notifying police of the presence of a deer allows authorities to remove the animal before another vehicle hits it. If you hit an animal but are not able to locate it, police and the Department of Natural Resources can track and euthanize it so it does not continue to suffer.

What Steps Should You Take After the Accident?

After an accident involving a deer, you will need to report the animal-related damage to your auto insurance provider. If you carry comprehensive coverage, it will likely cover any property damage as the result of wildlife collision. If you or any of your passengers suffered injuries because of the crash, seek medical treatment and provide documentation to your insurance company. Any personal injury protection may provide coverage.

Overall, hitting a deer in Wisconsin is so common it can often seem like a rite of passage. However, exercising proper caution and deer awareness in the high-risk fall and winter months can save you a great deal of time and money. More importantly, knowing what to do after a deer accident can help keep you, your family, and your community safer during deer mating season.

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