QUESTION: I was a passenger and got hurt when the driver hit a deer in Utah? Do I have insurance claim for my injuries?
ANSWER: Sometimes. It depends on whether the driver was negligent in controlling his vehicle before and after colliding with the deer or animal.
HOW IT HAPPENS: You are a passenger in a car that hits a deer and rollovers, causing you severe injuries. The driver was going 20 miles per hour over the speed limit on Utah I-15 between Fillmore and Nephi, Utah. He was driving at night and had smoked marijuana earlier in the day.
The deer was seen by the driver, but no defensive measures where taken to slow down. The deer then bolts out into the road, colliding with the car, causing the car to rollover several times. You are have a fractured hip from the rollover. The driver overcorrected causing the rollover.
Whether you can bring a claim against the driver of the car for impacting the deer depends on whether the driver was driving negligently. Driving negligently often means the driver was being reckless or careless under the circumstances, which is always fact specific to the rollover or car accident.
Factors that have to be looked to see if the driver was being cautious and driving appropriately are:
(1). Was the driving impaired by any substances, causing his reactions times to be slowed? Marijuana, alcohol, prescription drugs, etc. Was he wearing his driving glasses?
(2). Was the driver sleep deprived, causing him to not react timely? Was the driver driving too many hours without a break?
(3). Was the driver speeding and what where the road and weather conditions at the time? Night, full moon, darkness, road conditions, snowing, raining, time of day, etc. The more hazardous the driving conditions the more the driver should have been slowing down and driving more cautiously which would have avoided the rollover.
(4). Did the driver overcorrect the vehicle and negligently mishandle the vehicle, causing the rollover?
(5). Driver age and experience.
The bottom line is when the driver hits a deer, the driver still has a duty to control the vehicle and not hurt the passengers. When passengers are ejected, or hurt, they may have an insurance claim for their injuries.