Livestock vs. Auto Collisions in Eastern North Carolina

I’m Brian Ricci, a Greenville car crash attorney. Pitt County is home to around 400 working farms which means those living in and around Greenville have passed a farm or two as they drive around the area. And with farms comes farm animals that occasionally break free from their pastures and find their way onto the roads. The unfortunate result is a car crash that usually results in injury due to the amount of body mass that farm animals typically carry. And afterwards, you're left asking the question: who, exactly, is responsible for a collision? That's when you want to speak to an attorney to figure out what to do next.

Common Types of Accidents Involving Farm Animals

The average weight of a farm animal is anywhere between 1,500 to 2,500 pounds. A collision with something of this size is going to damage your car and possibly you as well. And you can't always see far enough ahead to anticipate the collision and take appropriate action. An incident involving farm animals takes any one of the following scenarios:

  • A T-bone style collision where you strike the animal as it crosses the road in front of you.
  • Swerving into a fence post, tree, fixed object, or even into the oncoming lane and colliding with another vehicle.
  • Hitting another driver who tried to avoid the animal by driving around it.
  • Being rear-ended by an inattentive driver who didn't see that you stopped to let the animal cross.

Any of these accidents can result in serious, even fatal, injuries due to the physics involved. Vehicles traveling at speed and running into an animal, other moving vehicle, or fixed object are more likely to suffer greater impact. This is because of the mass of the vehicle and animal along with the speed of the moving vehicle.

Who's Responsible for the Damages?

Obviously, you can't sue the animal for being in the roadway, but you can take action against the owner of said livestock. Owners are required by law to keep their animals behind adequate fencing. In fact, North Carolina is known as a fencing-in state. Anyone who keeps livestock must make sure that the animals are unable to escape from their enclosures or pastures. This goes for chickens to cows and everything in between. However, the state does not define the type of fencing to be used for each type of animal a farmer has on his or her property. If a fence is not properly maintained and results in the animals escaping, the farmer/owner may be held responsible for damage done to the car and its occupants.

However, certain facts need to be established including:

  • The accident was caused by an element that's within the control of the owner
  • The collision wasn't the result of a voluntary action made by the victim

Another issue to contend with is the fact the owner has to be actively negligent in the escape of the animals. No fence will keep a determined animal in if it wants to escape. For example: a bull breaks through what was a perfectly good and solid fence and finds its way onto the road where it's hit by a car. Negligence becomes more difficult to prove when it's the animal that broke through the fencing and the owner was unaware of its desire to escape. It's situations like this where consulting with an injury attorney helps determine the best possible course of action.

If you or someone you care for has been injured in a car wreck caused by an animal in the roadway, contact the Ricci Law Firm as soon as possible. We can guide you through the legal process and we will do our very best to secure a positive outcome for you and your family. We can be reached via telephone (252) 752-7785 or (888) 484-6881 or via our website.

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