Question

Am I at fault if I swerve to avoid my neighbor's cat but hit his car?

My neighbor's cat ran in front of my car when I was driving down my street. When I swerved to miss it, I wound up hitting his car which was parked in the roadway. I did miss his cat but the side of our cars struck each other. Would I be at fault if I swerved to avoid striking a domestic animal? The law states that the owner must be in control of his animal at all times. Plus, his car was parked in the roadway and not his driveway. I was going less than the speed limit and being cautious. I am insured and a good driver. However, my insurance company says I ran into a parked car deliberately. Would he be partially to blame for leaving his car on the street and not having control of his cat?

May 17, 2019 Palm Springs, CA

Answer
Ross Martin

May 17, 2019

In this instance, you will likely be held liable for the accident. Although you want to use your best judgment when it comes to avoiding an animal, in most cases, if an accident/collision occurs by you trying to avoid hitting an animal, you are responsible for the damages. The way that most insurance companies see it, hitting an animal (be it a deer, raccoon, or a cat) has the potential to be less damaging than swerving to miss it.

That said, the insurance adjuster will be the one that determines fault. Good luck and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask.

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