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California Livestock and Animal Collisions

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California Livestock and Animal Collisions


California is known for its beaches, redwood trees, national parks, and tourist attractions. Tourism is rising as hundreds flock to the Golden State every year to experience the west coast. However, the state also has a huge agricultural industry that focuses on raising and breeding livestock and farm animals.

Traffic Accidents with Farm Animals

Animal breeding, farming, and ranching are vital in the state of California. Still, the rapid development of roads, highways, communities, and business centers has created many dangerous areas, resulting in serious car accidents and collisions between animals, such as cows and horses, and motor vehicles.

Cows and horses are large animals often weighing as much, or more than, a small car, and a collision with them can result in catastrophic injuries and even death to a vehicle’s occupants.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a large animal and would like to discuss your legal options with an experienced personal injury attorney, call us for a free consultation at (916) 921-6400. We have resources available to help identify the owner of the livestock.

Liability Against Livestock Owners

Livestock is a broad term that refers to any breed of animal kept by people for commercial use. Most livestock accidents in California involve cows, horses, goats, pigs, and sheep.

In accidents involving livestock, there is typically a potential defendant: the livestock owner. If they are not the same person, you can file a personal injury claim against the livestock owner and other potential defendants, including the person in charge of taking care of the animal, the landowner, and the person who installed and maintained the gate.

If your accident involved a wild animal like a deer or coyote, you might be out of luck because there are no potential defendants to seek recovery from.

Livestock Owner’s Liability

Livestock owners need to control their animals properly, so they don’t run out onto the roads. Owners need to fence and secure their properties and confine their animals.

Despite that, duty cases involving livestock can be difficult because California has no presumption of the livestock owner’s liability simply because there is a car accident caused by an animal.

What If the Driver Was Partially at Fault?

If the driver was partially at fault in the livestock accident, then any recovery from the livestock owner may be reduced or eliminated, depending on the jurisdiction. For example, if you were driving at night and collided with a cow, the cow’s owner is clearly negligent for leaving the gate open. However, if you were texting and not paying attention to the road when the accident happened, you are partly at fault, and your recovery may be reduced or barred altogether.

Since California is a comparative negligence state, even if you are partially negligent in the accident, you are still entitled to pursue a personal injury claim against the livestock owner.

California Food and Agriculture Code Sections

California has laws governing traffic accidents with livestock. The two sections of the California Food and Agriculture Code includes:

  • Section 16902. Permitting livestock on the highway.
  • Section 16904. Presumptions or inferences in actions for motor vehicle collisions with animals.
What to Do After a Livestock Accident?

If you are involved in a traffic accident with a cow or livestock, your first priority is to seek medical attention immediately for your injuries. The moments right after your accident are crucial in pursuing a potential personal injury claim for your damages. If you are physically able, make sure to:

  • Preserve any tangible evidence, such as a bloody shirt.
  • Take pictures of your injuries and any damage done to your vehicle.
  • Take pictures of the animal or livestock involved in the accident.
  • Take pictures of the accident scene from different angles.
  • Take pictures of the gate from which the animal escaped.

You may not be in the mood to take these initial steps to preserve and capture evidence due to the trauma experienced. However, failing to do so immediately in the aftermath of the accident may prove to be costly for your injury case.

Why You Need an Injury Lawyer

It is of utmost importance that an attorney handling these cases has investigators, fencing experts, and livestock behavior specialists available to quickly establish the evidence of liability and negligence.

Watch the video below for tips on how to avoid animal collisions on the road.

Sacramento Livestock Accident Lawyer

We have successfully handled many animal and livestock collision cases since 1982. If you would like to discuss your legal options concerning such a case with one of our experienced Sacramento Livestock Accident Lawyers, contact us online or call us at 916.921.6400 or 800.404.5400 for free friendly advice. 

We are members of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the National Association of Distinguished Counsel.

See our case history of verdicts and settlements and our client reviews on GoogleYelp, and Avvo.

Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 7.6.21]

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