Brian White | June 19, 2015 | Texas Laws
Every year, hundreds of Americans are injured in car accidents. While most car accidents involve crashes with other motor vehicles, there is a surprising number of accidents that involve animals, especially in Texas. Roughly 253,000 animal-involved accidents happen annually.
A collision involving an animal can cause extensive damage to the car, severe injuries to the passengers, and in some cases, death. Each year, there are about 200 fatalities as a result of animal-related collisions. The question is, who is responsible when a person is injured or killed in an animal-related accident? The answer is not as simple as you may think.
Texas State Stock Laws
Car accident liability laws vary widely from state to state, and even more so when the accident pertains to animals. The state of Texas has several laws in place governing the liability of these types of accidents. Because there are so many farms in Texas, the state enacted “open range” and “closed range” laws.
If a county has not made a formal decision on the matter, the open range law automatically applies. This law states that property owners must build and maintain fences keeping other livestock off their property, but they do not need to fence in their own. Livestock are not permitted to roam unattended along federal or state highways.
A closed range law means that all livestock owners are required to fence in their animals. These two laws vary by county and dictate liability if an accident occurs. So, for example, if a horse or cow grazes in a pasture by the roadway and is struck by a car, resulting in damage, there are a few instances where the owner may be held liable. For example:
- If the accident occurred on a non-state or non-federal road, and the county did not have a specific stock law in place, the open range law would apply. Therefore, the livestock owner would not be held liable for damages. In this case, you would need to go through your insurance to recover damages.
- If the accident occurred on a non-state or non-federal road, and the country did have closed range stock laws in place, there may be a case for liability. Stock laws differ between counties, but in general, they require livestock owners to fence in their animals. Usually, the owner may be held liable if he or she permitted the animal to roam free or negligently allowed the animal to escape.
For example, if the owner knew there was a sizable hole in the fence and did not repair it, and the straying animal caused damage, the owner would be held liable.
- If the accident occurred on a federal or state highway, the animal owner may be held liable. If the owner knowingly permitted the animal to roam on the roadway, or if a broken fence was known about but not fixed, the owner could be held liable whether or not stock laws are in place.
Houston, TX Personal Injury Attorney Specializing in Stock Laws
Car accidents resulting from a livestock-related collision can cause serious damage to vehicles and serious injuries to passengers. Although each situation is complex, pursuing legal action may be right for you. Speak with attorney Brian White if you’ve been injured in this type of accident. You may be able to receive compensation based on property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.
Our firm is experienced in Houston, TX personal injury suits. We are well versed in the stock laws that govern property throughout the state, and we will tirelessly work to prove negligence and get the compensation you deserve.