People living in the Central Valley are proud of the region’s farming tradition and reputation as a bread-basket for the nation. However, it’s smart to be on high alert when you drive between cities like Fresno, Visalia, Turlock, Modesto, and Bakersfield. You’ll probably be traveling alongside more farms and ranches than you care to count and those industries can provide traffic hazards at almost any time of day.
A giant farming vehicle could be in your lane and bringing traffic to a crawl. A farm could also have livestock making a getaway and those animals could suddenly be right in front of you. If you end up in a collision with a large animal there may be more than bumper damage to worry about.
Finding Help After a Horse Versus Car Accident In Central Valley
Livestock likes horses are of sufficient size and weight to do extensive damage and leave you and your passengers with serious injuries. But who should have to pay for what will likely be an expensive recovery and rehabilitation?
The farm and the livestock may be a locally owned operation. That farm may also be part of a larger corporation. And in fact, there may be many property owners and partners who could share the blame for a horse getting loose and ending up in your path.
If you or a loved one are hurt in a crash involving livestock anywhere in Central Valley, please contact an attorney with experience in dealing with accidents in farming communities. Contact Martin Gasparian, the founder of Maison Law for an absolutely free, no-obligation consultation. Mr. Gasparian will make sure you know what your injury is worth and how much support you should expect from those at fault for you’re your accident.
Farmer Liability and Insurance Coverage in Livestock Accidents
Horses can weigh a ton or more and something that big can do serious damage to your car, truck, or SUV. It could also create a devastating impact that endangers everyone in your vehicle.
You’d think a crash involving a farm’s livestock on the road would be a clear-cut case and you’d have no trouble getting help with recovering your property and health. Sadly for victims, farms and ranches aren’t always automatically liable for what their horses do.
Farm owners and operators carry insurance like everyone else and their insurance agents will often work to shift blame away from the farm to the driver involved. They might say their policyholder isn’t responsible for one cent of your recovery because you could’ve avoided the animals or you didn’t anticipate the issue.
Of course, these are flimsy excuses that a personal injury lawyer working on your behalf can fight back on. Your attorney will also look into several factors to put the blame back on the corporate owners and operators of the ranch or farm.
These are just a few examples of what a personal injury lawyer will do for you:
- Collect evidence from the scene. Was fencing properly installed, maintained, and monitored? What kind of visibility issues made spotting the horses even harder?
- Gather witness testimony. Letting witnesses give their view of what happened and certify that the animals presented a danger.
- Gather expert testimony. Ranching experts can inspect the operation and testify to unsafe practices on a ranch.
- Research safety records for the farm. Have other motorists landed in an accident because of the negligence of this farming company? Does the farm have a poor record regarding employee and livestock safety?
You may feel unsure about filing a lawsuit against a local, hardworking farmer, but you shouldn’t look at it this way. Your claim will be filed against the farmers’ insurance providers and not the farmers themselves. It should be the insurance company that has to pay.
Farmers carry insurance for unfortunate accidents just like this and they should want to get victims the help they need so that an accident doesn’t seriously affect someone’s life over the long term. Your claim may not even be filed against anyone local. A corporate owner of the local farm could be the one found liable.
What to Do After a Collision with a Horse
An accident involving a farming vehicle or livestock carries the potential of physical, emotional, and financial damages for victims. Unfortunately, compensation can be slow in coming while insurance companies stall and try to find ways to avoid liability.
As you wait, your hospital bills will continue to build. Monthly expenses like your car and mortgage payments could also fall behind as you are forced to miss time from your job. You won’t want to face all of these hardships alone.
For this reason, it’s important to make sure you have a strong case to bring to an insurance company or to a courtroom if necessary. Vital evidence for your side will be found in the moments after a collision.
If your health will permit you to gather evidence on the scene document as much as you can:
- Dial 911 – Make sure police officers get the full story on what happened. They will likely notify the farm of the accident if owners and operators don’t already know about it. Let paramedics document every injury you have. Head for the hospital if that’s what’s needed.
- Use your phone to snap photos – Show the road, street signs, and lane markings. Take photos that show the weather and time of day. Illustrate any visibility hazards involving a curve or a natural or artificial obstacle that blocked your view making it hard to see the animals. Capture photos of any signs for the farm. If you spot how the animal escaped the farm, take pics of the damaged fence.
- Talk to witnesses – Other drivers may not have seen the collision, but they may testify that the animals were loose and that they presented a danger. Get their contact info. See if anyone had a dashcam rolling at the time of the accident.
- Exchange information – If a representative for the farm is on the scene get as much information from them as you can, including insurance details.
- Get to the Doctor’s Office – Even if you are taken to the emergency room, be sure to document all of your injuries with your personal physician. Your medical charts will be powerful evidence for your side. Pay special attention to any new pain that arises in the days after an accident. Sometimes the shock of a bad crash can hide the pain from injuries until the next day.
Contact a Central Valley Horse and Car Accident Lawyer
If you’ve struck a horse from a local farm or a ranch and suffered a serious injury, please contact attorney Martin Gasparian, the founder of Maison Law. Mr. Gasparian serves the residents of Fresno, Merced, Madera, King, Kern, Tulare, and Stanislaus Counties as well as many other surrounding cities. No matter where you live, you are entitled to a free, no-obligation appraisal of your case.
It’s a good idea to talk to a personal injury attorney before speaking to any insurance representative for a farm or ranch. Insurance agents will be calling to get a recorded statement from you. These statements are trouble because they’ll be asking you a lot of questions you may not know the answer to. They hope to use your confused statements later to weaken your claim against them. Let your car accident attorney handle this communication for you.