I Hit a Deer With My Motorcycle. What Should I Do?

Written by Steven Matz on . Posted in .

If you have noticed more roadkill on the side of the road lately while riding your motorcycle, you are not alone. Nearly 21 percent of all vehicle crashes in Michigan in 2020 involved deer. Striking a deer with a car can cause a great deal of damage. If it happens on a motorcycle, it can be deadly for both the deer and the motorcyclist. Two of the five fatalities in vehicle-deer crashes in 2020 involved bikers, even though motorcycles made up only 0.5% of total accidents that year. The motorcycle accident attorneys at Matz Injury Law are dedicated to protecting your rights as a biker, which includes your right to collect personal injury protection. We travel all over Michigan, helping motorcyclists recover compensation for their injuries. We will do the same for you.

If You Think the Odds of Hitting a Deer on a Motorcycle are Low, Think Again

The Michigan counties with the most vehicle-deer collisions were Kent and Oakland counties. This does not mean you are less likely to get into a deer accident while traveling through Michigan’s rural northern counties. Michigan’s most populous counties have the highest number of vehicle crashes involving deer. The more vehicles on the roads, the greater the chance of collisions. The distribution of deer covers the entire state, though, especially during the summer months.

In rural areas in the northern parts of Michigan, you may be just as likely to encounter a deer as you would in the more populous areas to the south. With fewer vehicles on the roads, the deer in northern Michigan might be bolder about crossing. That may put them — and you — at greater risk for car and motorcycle collisions.

Double Check Your Motorcycle Insurance for Deer Accident Coverage!

Michigan’s no-fault law for vehicle crashes does not include motorcycles. No-fault benefits also do not apply to deer accidents, which puts motorcyclists at a double disadvantage. You can purchase optional Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, which provides benefits if you are involved in a motorcycle crash with a deer.

How Can I Avoid Deer on a Motorcycle?

The following tips can help you avoid hitting deer when driving your motorcycle. You may also consult the Michigan State Police’s “Don’t Veer for Deer” public safety campaign to get some useful tips.

1. Slow Down If You See a Deer

Deer tend to move in herds. If you see one deer, more are likely to follow close behind. Slow down and look to the sides of the road. Stop to let any deer that you see cross the road safely.

You need to be able to see the road clearly to avoid hitting deer. Most deer accidents occur after dusk and before dawn, so be sure to use your headlight.

2. Watch for Deer Crossing Signs

State highway officials may post deer crossing signs in areas where deer frequently cross the road or where prior deer accidents have occurred. Slow down when you see a deer crossing sign, and be ready to stop if you see any deer.

3. Install a Deer Whistle

Deer whistles supposedly produce a sound that discourages deer from crossing a road. They have received mixed reviews with regard to their effectiveness, but they are inexpensive and easy to install on a motorcycle. Slowing down and stopping should always be your first strategy for avoiding deer collisions, but a deer whistle may also be useful.

4. Do Not Swerve

If you see a deer or other wild animal in the middle of the road, your first instinct might be to swerve to avoid hitting them. However, swerving can put you in greater danger. You could end up in the path of an oncoming vehicle or on a collision course with a tree. Slowing down as much as you can and as quickly as you can is your best option, even if it means hitting the deer.

5. Maintain Proper Spacing

Always keep a proper distance between yourself and any vehicles ahead of you. This includes when you are riding with a group of bikers. Maintaining adequate spacing will make it much easier to slow down and stop for deer or other road hazards. 

September through November is Deer Hunting Season

The Michigan State Police are warning motorists not to veer for deer. Deer are most active during the period from September through November. The presence of hunters in the woods may make the deer more likely to try to cross roads. To help bikers stay safe during deer hunting season, visit the state police’s website and follow their social media accounts for deer safety tips. 

Motorcycle laying on ground in front of woman

Life-Saving Tips If You Ever Find Yourself in a Deer Accident

If you have been involved in a deer accident on your motorcycle, the steps you should take are similar to what you should do after any other kind of motorcycle accident.

1. Take Photographs

You will need evidence of the circumstances and results of the crash when you make an insurance claim. If possible, take pictures of the accident scene, your injuries, and any property damage to your motorcycle.

2. Get Medical Treatment

Deer accidents involving motorcyclists can result in serious injuries or fatalities. Seek medical attention as soon as possible, even if you do not think your injuries are that bad. Some injuries that result from motorcycle crashes are not immediately apparent after an accident. Your adrenaline might be keeping you from feeling pain, or you might have an injury that could take days, weeks, or longer to manifest.

3. Contact an Attorney

Once you have received medical attention, you might start thinking about how to pay your medical bills. You can make a claim on your PIP insurance coverage, but you will need the help of an experienced motorcycle accident attorney. Remember that the insurance company is not your friend. They will try to minimize the amount they must pay you. An attorney can advocate for your rights and fight to get you the compensation you deserve.

4. File a Police Report

You will need a police report for your insurance claim, even if the accident seems minor. The 911 operator can dispatch someone from the local police department or sheriff’s office to investigate the accident scene and prepare the report.

Tell the 911 operator as much as you can about the circumstances of the accident. They may send EMTs to tend to your injuries and other first responders to deal with the deer.

Keep in mind Michigan state law requires you to file a police report if you were injured or your accident exceeded $1,000 in property damage. 

5. Avoid the Injured Animal

If the deer is still alive, it may be confused and in pain, making it dangerous to you and others. As much as you might think you need to take care of the deer, or maybe put it out of its misery, it is best to leave that job to the professionals.

How Matz Injury Law Can Help Bikers Like You

Do not let a motorcycle accident with a deer upend your life. Let the personal injury attorneys at Matz Injury Law help you get compensated. Contact our firm today by calling 1-866-22Not33 or using our online contact form. We will reach out to you immediately.

Written By Steven Matz

Steven J. Matz is a founding shareholder of Matz Injury Law. The firm’s concentration is on personal injury litigation, with an emphasis on traumatic brain injury. Mr. Matz earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with high distinction and highest honors in 1974 from the University of Michigan and a Juris Doctor degree in 1977 from The George Washington University National Law Center. Mr. Matz lectures and publishes in a number of areas, including ethics, marketing, trial tactics, and head injury. Mr. Matz has served on the Michigan Association for Justice Executive Board and currently serves the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board as a Hearing Panel Chairman and Master. He is also a member of the State Bar Committee for Character and Fitness.
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