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Immediate actions to take after hitting an animal with your car

Whether in the wild, on the road or on the run, there’s unfortunately plenty of opportunity for motorists to collide with an animal.

But the word “animal” in these circumstances and from a legal perspective doesn’t apply to all.

When you’re required to stop
If you hit any of the following, by law you must stop your vehicle, inform the police right away, and remain at the scene until they arrive:

  • dog
  • horse
  • donkeys
  • mule
  • goat
  • cow
  • sheep
  • pig

When you should stop
For cats, deer, foxes badgers and other animals, it’s a good idea to report the incident for two reasons. One, the police will likely contact the local authority to arrange the disposal of its body, and two, if it’s a cat or another domesticated pet, it will give you the opportunity to inform their owner.

Contact the local wildlife rescue organisation if it’s a wild animal that’s still alive. Otherwise you can take domesticated animals to the closest vet.

Approach with caution
Regardless of whether you must or should stop, make sure you do so where it’s safe. Be aware that an injured animal may act aggressively so take care in approaching them.

It may be that it’s not safe to move the animal out of the road, so you should set up a hazard area to warn oncoming traffic and keep off the road.

While you can help the animal by keeping it warm and dry, you shouldn’t feed it or give it any water as this might delay medical treatment.

Record and take photos
Depending on the nature of the accident, you may be able to make a claim on your insurance if there’s been damage to your car or you’ve suffered an injury.

Make sure you take photos or note down the circumstances including time, location, and details of any other drivers involved or witnesses so you can take this information to your insurance provider if you are able to make a claim.