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The Minnesota Department of Traffic Safety’s "Crash Facts 2007" indicated that there were 3,144 vehicle-deer accidents reported with 336 injuries and six fatalities. An estimated 2.4 million deer-vehicle crashes occurred in the two-year period between July 1, 2007, and June 30, 2009. That’s 100,000 per month or one every 26 seconds. The national average property damage cost of deer collisions is $3,050.

Some helpful suggestions:

Rule 1: Treat every deer as if it’s going to cross in front of you. If you assume a deer feeding on the shoulder is going to hold its position until you have gone by, you’re just an accident waiting to happen.

Rule 2: Drive according to the conditions. If the night is foggy, rainy, or slippery, you might not be able to prevent a collision, but you can minimize the damage if you’re driving slowly enough. Don’t just speed along and hope nothing gets in your way.

Rule 3: Keep your eyes on the road at all times. You may only have a second or two to react to a deer crossing the highway. If you’re not an attentive driver, you can get hurt.

If a crash with a deer seems inevitable, safety experts advise people not to swerve because of the risk of losing control or swerving into oncoming traffic. From the car insurance angle, Steve Murphy, with the Willard & Williams insurance agency in Mankato points out the difference in hitting a deer or the ditch also affects motorists’ insurance premiums. “If you swerve and miss the deer and end up in the ditch, it’s an at-fault accident and affects your rates. If you hit the deer, it’s under your comprehensive (coverage) and doesn’t affect your rates,” Murphy said.

While there is no liability claim for the driver of the car, he or she is covered for Minnesota No Fault Benefits. These benefits are paid in the same manner that they would be paid in any Minnesota motor vehicle collision. Passengers may still have a claim for liability depending on the facts of the collision. It is important that these case be investigated early by an Attorney who does this type of work.

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