Driver Stops for Geese and Gets Rear-ended

So there was a somewhat recent case in which a driver and his passenger were rear-ended after stopping for a flock of geese crossing the road. They suffered some minor injuries and filed suit in Fairfax General District Court. They lost as the judge found that they were contributorily negligent in stopping for the geese, failing to give the driver behind them proper warning resulting in the accident.

The plaintiff appealed arguing that they were required by law to stop for the geese as it is illegal to "cause the death of a migratory bird" as the Canadian geese were.

Now, I'm not advocating killing birds or any other animal for that matter, but what if the injuries weren't so minor? What if one of the plaintiffs had died as a result of the accident? I certainly understand the spirit of the law that it should be illegal to murder animals but when driving a vehicle and the choice is between your safety and their life you should always choose your safety. Not to say that you can't try to avoid them or slow down, but slamming on your brakes as they did in this case is simply not worth it and they're lucky on two counts. One, that their injuries were minor. And, two, that they were able to collect for their medical bills, which ended up being the only award received.
Ben Glass
Ben Glass is a nationally recognized Virginia injury, medical malpractice, and long-term disability attorney
2 Comments
Thanks for this article. People do not think enough about this until they are in a risky situation. My priorities: (1) Safety of human life, (2) safety of property or rare and valuable species of animal, and last and least (3) safety of a bird that is overpopulated, over-regulated and dangerous to humans in flight and on the road. I would imagine the crew and passengers of Captain Sullenburger plane that ended up in the Hudson River might agree. I think it would be good for a goose to dumb to get out of the way to be taken out of the gene pool, but there are a lot of people who just avoid thinking about this and just do the knee jerk thing and slam on the brakes.
by Virgil Banowetz April 29, 2017 at 06:13 PM
But isn't the real problem that the following driver was following too closely/going too fast/otherwise inattentive? If the following driver were complying with his/her duties, that car would have also stopped, and there would have been no accident.
by EHH April 17, 2010 at 03:20 PM
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