Although it often comes as a surprise to visitors, residents of the State of Florida know that you don’t have to travel very far from popular tourist destinations such as Melbourne to find yourself in a rural area where livestock far outnumber humans. Unfortunately, that means that collisions involving farm animals are a common occurrence. When a farm animal causes or contributes to a motor vehicle accident, can you sue the owner of the livestock?
If you were injured in a Melbourne farm animal accident, there is a good chance that you suffered substantial physical injuries and emotional trauma. Just trying to get your vehicle repaired and your injuries treated can be overwhelming, leaving little time and energy to worry about how the legal system views the issue of liability when livestock is involved in an accident. Fortunately, a Melbourne injury from a farm animal lawyer at Layman Law Firm, P.L. can help. We have the experience and resources required to pursue an at-fault owner when the owner’s farm animal caused or contributed to a collision. Moreover, we are committed to making sure you are fairly compensated for the financial hardship, physical injuries, and psychological damage you suffered because of the farm animal accident.
How Do Livestock Accidents Occur?
Take just a short drive from Melbourne and you may find yourself in the middle of seemingly endless acres of agricultural land. Most people realize that Florida is known for its orange groves; however, few people realize that Florida is also famous for horse farms and training facilities. Even fewer people know that Florida is home to about one million head of cattle, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Where there are horses and cows, you often find pigs, sheep, goats, and a variety of other farm animals. When one of these animals wanders onto a public roadway, a serious crash may occur.
A motorist who is unfamiliar with rural areas may not be prepared to stop when a 2,000-pound animal appears in the roadway ahead of them. Even motorists who regularly travel rural roads can be involved in a farm animal accident if the animal(s) suddenly charges across the road during a stampede or unexpectedly wanders onto the road at night. A frightened or angered animal may even intentionally charge a vehicle, making it all but impossible for the driver to prevent a collision.
The sheer size and weight of many farm animals make it likely that a collision with one will result in serious injuries. When a collision involves several animals, the damage to a vehicle and the injuries to the vehicle occupants can be staggering. Traumatic brain injury (TBI), broken bones, internal organ damage, and spinal cord injuries are all common injuries suffered by victims of farm animal accidents.
What Should I Do After a Car Accident Involving a Farm Animal?
The immediate aftermath of any motor vehicle accident can be chaotic and traumatic for an injured driver or passenger. When the crash involves a farm animal, it often increases the level of chaos and confusion. To help you navigate the chaos, do the following if you find yourself in a car accident with a farm animal:
- Do not exit the vehicle. If you are an animal lover, you may be more concerned about the animal’s injuries than your own. The animal, however, may be frightened or angry. A frightened or angry 2,000-pound animal is a dangerous animal. To prevent further injury to you and the animal, remain in the vehicle until rescue vehicles arrive.
- Call 911 immediately. There are several reasons why calling 911 immediately is essential. First, you are likely on a rural road and cannot safely drive yourself to a hospital. Second, the authorities can contact someone to help the animal if it is injured. Finally, contacting the police ensures that an accident report will be filed indicating what happened and where it happened.
- Get a thorough medical evaluation. Even if you do not feel as though you were seriously injured, go to the emergency room, and get checked out. Some of the most serious injuries (such as traumatic brain injury) do not exhibit obvious symptoms.
- Document the accident. If you are able, take pictures of the accident scene, including pictures of the animal, the land around the accident, and any obvious breaks or holes in an existing fence.
- Consult with an attorney before speaking to anyone else. If the animal’s owner contacts his/her insurance company, you may be contacted by an adjuster shortly after the accident. Always consult with an experienced attorney before agreeing to speak to an insurance adjuster (or anyone else).
Is the Owner of a Farm Animal Responsible for Injuries in a Car Accident?
If another motorist causes a car accident, you can file a lawsuit against that driver to try and recover monetary damages for your injuries, but you cannot sue a cow or a horse. You may, however, be entitled to file a lawsuit against the owner of a farm animal when the animal was involved in a collision.
Interestingly, the law in Florida used to require the driver of a vehicle to pay the owner of livestock when a car accident caused injuries to the farm animal. Fortunately, the law now allows an injured motorist or passenger to pursue compensation from the owner of a farm animal under certain conditions. Specifically, Florida Statute 588.15 imposes liability on the owner of livestock for injuries, including damages to personal property, if the owner “intentionally, willfully, carelessly, or negligently suffers or permits such livestock to run at large upon or stray upon the public roads of this state.”
The law does not require farm animals to be fenced in for the owner to avoid liability. Instead, it effectively imposes a burden on the owner to make sure the animals do not “run at large” or “stray” onto a public roadway. Conversely, the existence of a fence does not shield a livestock owner from liability if the animal ends up on the roadway and causes an accident. In other words, even if the owner has a fence, the owner may still be held liable for injuries if the animal ended up on a public roadway.
Am I Entitled to Compensation for My Car Accident Caused by Farmer’s Animals Injuries?
Only an experienced Melbourne injuries from livestock lawyer can evaluate the facts of your car accident and tell you if the farm animal’s owner is likely to be held liable for your injuries. If the owner is held liable, however, you may be entitled to damages for your physical injuries, emotional trauma, and financial hardship, including compensation for:
- Medical expenses, including doctor, hospital, and therapist expenses
- Rehabilitation, in-home care, and long-term care costs
- Lost income or loss of earning capacity
- Specialized medical equipment
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Mental anguish
If your parent or child was fatally injured in a car accident caused by a farm animal, you may be entitled to compensation from the animal’s owner by pursuing a Florida wrongful death lawsuit.
Contact an Experienced Melbourne Injuries from Livestock Lawyer at Layman Law Firm, P.L.
If you were injured in a car accident caused by a farmer’s animal, contact a Melbourne injuries from livestock lawyer at Layman Law Firm, P.L. to discuss your legal options. We are dedicated to helping injured victims and surviving family members seek compensation for the injuries they suffered. Contact the team today for your free initial consultation by calling 321-773-2111 or by filling out our convenient Intake Evaluation Form online.