When we think of car accidents, we normally picture a car running into another car on the road, but in reality anytime your vehicle hits something it is considered an accident. Crashing into a building may be a less common form of accident, but it still happens. Do you know what you should do if you crash into a building, a telephone pole, or even a deer or other large wild animal? Here are a few tips on how to handle this unfortunate situation.
How Often Does This Happen?
It’s estimated upward of 60 accidents between cars and buildings happen every single day. This is a scary statistic, especially if you own a business — do you know if your insurance covers damages from a car driving through your front window?
For drivers, this statistic is just as worrying. What should you do if you lose control of your car and hit a building or a deer walks in front of you and freezes in your headlights? Yes, “deer in the headlights?” is not just a turn of phrase.
What Happens When You Hit a Building?
If you crash into a building, whether it’s your own home or a local business, your insurance will pay for the damages under the property damage liability section of your policy. Your rates will go up, but as long as you have comprehensive car insurance you won’t be responsible for paying for the damages out of your own pocket.
If you own your home and you crash into it, you’ll need to look into both your homeowners insurance and your auto insurance policy — one will likely cover the damage to your home and the other the damage to your car. Crashing into a home that you rent, on the other hand, is no different than crashing into a business. Your car insurance policy will likely cover the damages in exchange for higher rates.
What Happens When You Hit an Animal?
Striking an animal stinks, especially if it’s a large one like a deer or moose that is almost guaranteed to do an enormous amount of damage to your car. Even if the animal survives, you’re not going to file an insurance claim against it. Thankfully, hitting a deer or other animal doesn’t count as the kind of accident that increases your insurance premiums.
If you don’t have comprehensive collision insurance, you might be out of luck — basic insurance doesn’t cover the damages from this kind of accident. It also doesn’t cover medical costs if you end up with whiplash from your chance encounter with Bambi out on the roads. You will have to pay a deductable for the repairs, but it usually ends up less expensive than trying to pay for the repairs out of pocket.
What Happens When You Hit a Pedestrian?
If hitting an animal stinks, hitting a person is even worse — in 2015, there were an estimated 70,000 pedestrian accidents in the United States, resulting in more than 5,000 deaths. In the event you strike a pedestrian with your car, the first thing you should do is stop immediately and dial 911. Don’t leave the scene — if you do, it becomes a hit and run.
Liability insurance covers medical costs for the pedestrian who was struck, and in the event of a fatality they will sometimes pay a death benefit to the family of the pedestrian. There will also be a police investigation, and your insurance may only pay damages if you are found to be at fault for the accident. If the fault lies with the pedestrian, they will be responsible for their own medical care.
Stay Calm and Act Responsibly in the Event of an Accident
It’s easy to say “don’t crash into buildings,” but we know these accidents are just that — accidents — and they’re not always in your control. It’s important to drive safely, but in the event you end up in an accident, you should know what to do.
As with any accident, make sure you report it to your insurance company and get checked out by a medical professional as soon as possible afterward. When you follow these common sense and safety tips, you can get through a difficult situation.
Scott Huntington is a writer and car fanatic from Harrisburg, PA.