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Oh Deer! What You Should Do If You Strike An Animal While Riding Your Motorcycle

by Norman Nelson

It doesn't matter how good a motorcycle rider you are. If an animal should suddenly dart into your path, there is often very little you can do. Deer can be especially troublesome in the fall, as it is their rutting season. During this period, these large creatures will often react unpredictably in their mad lust to seek out a mate. And while a car accident with a deer can cause significant damage to a vehicle, the same collision can be absolutely catastrophic for a bike. In fact, according to the Washington Post, 70 percent of fatal crashes with deer involved a motorcyclist. But it's not just deer that can cause significant damage to a bike or severe injuries to a rider. Even a collision or a sudden swerve to avoid a dog can cause serious issues for a motorcycle rider.

After the Accident

So what should you do if you strike an animal or lay your motorcycle down while avoiding a creature that has suddenly crossed in front of you? The first thing you will need to do -- if you are physically able to -- is to get your bike out of the road and away from the injured animal if it is still nearby. Then you will need to do the following:

  • Call the police to report the incident. You may need the report if you make an insurance claim. If possible, you should also take a few pictures of the scene of the accident and the animal (from a distance) if it is still there. This may be especially important if the animal involved was a loose dog, as the owner may be responsible for paying for the repairs for your bike and any injuries you may have sustained. This type of claim will typically be covered by a pet owner's homeowner's insurance policy.

  • Inform your insurance company of the collision. If you have been in a wreck with a wild animal, the motorcycle repairs might be covered, especially if you have comprehensive insurance.

  • Have an estimate done on your bike by a reputable shop or one recommended by your insurance company. It is important not to have any work performed on your bike until after you have your bike inspected for damages as this could affect any claims you may want to file with an insurance company in the future.

  • Collect any hair or blood samples if you hit a dog for identification purposes. These may be necessary if you end up having to file a lawsuit against the dog owner and your case goes to court.

Take Your Motorcycle to a Repair Shop

Even a collision with a small animal could cause damage to your bike that you may not realize at first. For example, Cruiser states that raccoons and porcupines have a low and round body structure that won't "crush." This could potentially cause the carcass to roll underneath your bike, which could then result in damage to your undercarriage. And hitting a porcupine can cause major damage your tires. 

You may also need to take your bike into a repair shop even if you managed to avoid colliding with the animal but had to lay down your motorcycle. Unfortunately, laying down a bike can result in damage to the following:

  • Exhaust pipes
  • Engine casings
  • Cables, including your clutch and throttle
  • Headlights
  • Gas tanks
  • Alignment

And depending on your speed, it is also possible that you could have bent your bike's frame. That is one of the reasons why it is so important to have your bike thoroughly inspected and repaired by a reputable bike shop.