Why Your Passengers Can Make Personal Injury Claims Against You When You Swerve to Avoid A Deer

by Laura H.
(Maryland)


I swerved to avoid hitting a deer that jumped out right in front of me and I hit a couple of trees. My car insurance company is letting my passengers make bodily injury claims against my policy. The accident was not my fault. The deer caused it. Alan, Mt. Airy, MD.


It sounds like your automobile insurance policy wording requires that you actually hit the deer in order to make a claim against your comprehensive or other-than-collision coverage. If it does, and you had actually hit the deer that jumped in front of you, the deer would have been considered the cause of the accident and your passengers would not be able to make personal injury claims against your policy. Since you did not override what is to many people a natural instinct to swerve from danger, and you swerved into a tree, your accident becomes a collision; you hit a fixed object.

For your insurance company to let your passengers make personal injury claims against your policy, their investigation of the accident must have turned up something that makes it appear that the accident was your fault. That is, if you are sure that your passengers are making personal injury claims which include additional payment for what is called pain and suffering, instead of just first-party claims in which only their medical bills and possibly their lost wages are paid. Click here for an explanation of the difference between those two types of claims.

Either way, you should be able to discuss this with your insurance company representative and they should be able to explain the reasons for handling your claim the way they are. Perhaps they believe that you were speeding or over-reacted. This should be explained to you.

This article is approved for informational purposes and is not intended to take the place of competent local legal counsel.

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