Some of the most exciting and picturesque roads in the United States are in places where motorcycle riders are likely to encounter wild animals, including deer. Unfortunately, deer collisions are relatively common, and, in some states, these accidents can result in fatal injuries for motorcyclists. Even if a collision like this doesn't cause serious injuries, it's important to know what to do when this sort of thing happens to you. Learn more here.
What to do in the face of a collision
If you suddenly come across a deer in the road, you probably won't have much time to react, but it's still useful to know what to do.
When cars encounter animals on the road, driving organizations generally recommend that drivers don't brake or swerve suddenly, as this can increase the risk of a more serious collision. Similarly, many motorcyclists believe that you should simply speed up and hope for the best when you hit the animal, but this is likely to increase your injury risk. While occasional tales of riders slicing these animals in half do crop up, this is not the right strategy.
In fact, motorcyclists should try to swerve to avoid the animal, if possible. While this decision will depend on the riding conditions, you stand a better chance of a less serious outcome if you can brake hard and swerve, while keeping control of the bike.
Dealing with the aftermath of a collision
If you hit a large animal like a deer, you may lose control of your bike and end up on the side of the road. If you do manage to keep control of the bike, pull over as soon as it is safe to do so. Put on your emergency lights, so approaching drivers can see any potential obstructions. If you carry emergency flares, use these to further warn approaching drivers.
Of course, you need to get help for any injuries you have suffered. Call the police and report the accident and let them know if you need medical help. Even if you aren't injured, you should still report the accident, as some state laws mean there are penalties if you don't report a single-vehicle collision.
You should normally call a motorcycle repair or recovery service to come and collect your motorcycle. Even if there are no obvious signs of damage, you may not realize that a critical part is no longer working, and if you ride away, you may actually increase the risk of another accident. Deer collisions generally cause serious damage, so it's important to get an expert to help you.
Sadly, even if the animal is in some distress, you shouldn't approach an injured deer, as it could still kick and injure you in self-defense. Wait for the police to arrive, or call a local veterinary service if you can get the details. You can try to move a dead animal off the highway, but it's still sometimes better to wait for the police to arrive.
Insurance and compensation
If you hit a wild animal, you can't generally file a lawsuit against anyone for compensation, but you should check if the deer actually belongs to a local farmer. Record the details of the incident carefully, so your attorney can follow the case up for you. Photographic evidence can help you prove that a fence or other structure was not adequate to keep the animal off the road.
Your insurance company will normally cover the cost of damages that you incur from a deer collision, as long as you have comprehensive or collision coverage. If you swerve to avoid a deer and don't actually hit the animal, you will normally need to claim on your comprehensive coverage. Report the incident as quickly as possible, and follow the insurer's instructions closely. For example, the insurance company may insist you use a specific repair shop like Monarch Honda in your area.
Many motorcyclists collide with deer on the road. If you're unfortunate enough to encounter an animal on the road, don't take any chances with your safety and get the help you need before you leave the scene of the accident.