Fall is a fun season – apple picking, Halloween, jumping in leaf piles (as long as someone else rakes!). But one thing gets dramatically worse in the Fall – collisions between cars and deer. In Fairfax County, we are seeing more of these accidents than ever. In fact, according to a new report by insurance giant State Farm, Virginia now ranks 13th in the US when it comes to collisions between vehicles and deer. The likelihood of a Virginia driver filing an insurance claim as a result of hitting a deer is projected to increase 3.2% since last year. While these accidents are not often fatal (for the human, anyway), they can cause injuries and expensive damage. The average claim in the US for a deer collision is nearly $4,000.

Fairfax County does have a deer management program to control the population of white-tailed deer. The program targets deer on public lands, and is necessary because the usual natural predators of deer are not present in Fairfax County, at least not in numbers large enough to control the population. Both control efforts and collisions increase during October – December, because deer are more active during the Fall mating season. So it pays to be alert – at BenGlassLaw, we can help you after an accident, but we would ALWAYS rather help prevent one in the first place. To avoid a collision with a deer, keep these tips in mind:

  • Brake, but avoid swerving. Swerving often leads to an even worse crash, either with another car or because you lose control of your vehicle
  • Stop braking at the moment of impact. Strong braking lowers the hood of your car, which increases the chance that a deer could hit your windshield
  • Be especially alert near dawn and dusk – this is when deer are most active
  • If you see one deer, look out for more. They usually travel together
  • Of course, slow down, buckle up, stay alert. These simple tips are often the most important!

If you do have the misfortune to hit a deer (1 in 94 Virginia drivers will), stay calm and assess the damage. If you are injured or your car is damaged and undriveable, call 911. If the deer is injured or killed, call the police non-emergency number (703-691-2131 in Fairfax County). Your auto insurance normally does cover deer collisions, so be sure to contact your insurance company as soon as you can. And then you can get back to raking leaves and enjoying the Fall!

If you have questions about buying car insurance, download a FREE PDF of our book Buying Car Insurance. You can also call BenGlassLaw at (703) 584-7277.

Ben Glass
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Ben Glass is a nationally recognized car accident and ERISA disability attorney in Fairfax, VA.
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