Factors Determining Whether A Livestock Owner Is Liable For A Car-Livestock Crash

Crashing your car into a livestock can lead to serious injuries or even fatalities. Therefore, any claim arising out of such an accident should be taken seriously. If you are involved in a car-livestock accident, one of the first things you would want to know is whether the owner of the livestock is liable for your damages. Here are two factors that should guide you on your quest:


Negligence plays a big role in almost every accident case. Also, negligence isn't restricted to the parties involved in the accident. For example, if you hit a horse on the road, it doesn't necessarily mean that either you or the owner of the horse was negligent. Other parties, for example, the horse's keeper (the keeper isn't always the owner) or a guest who was riding the horse for the day, may be negligent too.

However, in a typical car-livestock crash, the owner of the animal is likely to be found negligent. Here are four things that may mean the owner is negligent:

  • Relying on poorly maintained farm/ranch fences
  • Grazing on a property without proper license
  • Using inadequate fencing; for example, a well-maintained fence that is too short to keep the animals out is inadequate
  • Employing poorly trained farmhands who don't know how to handle the animals.

State Laws

Apart from negligence, the laws of the state on which the accident occurred may also determine whether or not you are compensated. For example, some states have open range laws that allow livestock to wander anywhere and everywhere without their owners getting permits. In such a case, just because the animal wasn't fenced in doesn't mean that its owner acted negligently.

Then there are also states like Alabama where negligence doesn't play a role in determining whether a livestock owner is liable for a car-livestock accident. In Alabama, you will not be compensated unless you can prove that the livestock owner knowingly or willfully placed the animal on your path. This means even a livestock owner who fails to maintain their fences, resulting in the animals getting out of their enclosure, isn't liable for any damages caused by the animal. As you can imagine, this makes it extremely rare (it's not every day that a person willfully places an animal on a highway) to win such a case in the state.

A car-livestock accident claim isn't something you would want to handle alone. Get an accident lawyer, preferably one conversant with the laws of the state in which the accident occurred, to help you navigate such a case.