Do I get any compensation if I hit a cow on an open range road in the middle of the night?

I was driving home at 25 mph at 9:30 p.m. and then I saw something that I couldn’t tell what it was, I thought it was a person so I just hit the breaks and drive to the side. They were 3 black cows on the middle of the road so I hit one and kill it with the impact. So I called 911 and they send a sherriff and he came and make a report and called the tow truck because he said it was procedure, I had to pay the tow truck $125 even though I didn’t ask for it and didnt use his service. Now my car has a bent hood, the power stearing pump

broke and I think some hose broke on the alternator. The insurance won’t pay anything because I just pay the

liability.

Asked on December 28, 2018 under Accident Law, Arizona

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

It depends on whether the cow's owner was negligent, or unreasonably careless, or not, since liability is based on being at fault in some way. Some examples:
1) The owner lives near the road and does not fence his cows in: that is careless due to the relatively high likelihood of an accident, and he would be liable.
2) The owner lives near the road and fences the cows, but forget to close the gate--that is careless, too, and could make him liable.
3) The owner lives near the road and the cows were properly fenced in, but something beyond the owner's control happened (e.g. they panicked and rushed the fence and pushed through it; a tree fell on the fence or car hit it, opening a gap; teenagers as a prank let the cows out; etc.)--in this case, since he did nothing wrong and took the pracautions he should, he is not liable.
4) The cows were unfenced, but the owner lives far from the road--so far that you'd never expect even unfenced cows to go to the road--and it was an anomaly that they were there; in this case, since a collision on the road is unlikely, the owner would have done nothing wrong in not fencing them in and would not be liable.
In cases 1) or 2), you may be able to get compensation, but if the owner or his insurer refuses to voluntarily pay, you'd have to sue for the money.


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