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Modesto Livestock Accident Lawyer

When you think of the causes of car accidents, you might first think of drunk or distracted drivers. Livestock might not be an automatic consideration, but those who drive near the many farms in Modesto and the Central Valley know that encountering an animal<
If you suffer injuries and property damages due to a livestock collision, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation if you can prove that the animal’s owner was negligent. Before you can reach that point, you or your lawyer must do a significant amount of evaluation and legal work to build your case.

Get a Modesto livestock accident attorney who knows the ins and outs of the legal process and how to effectively work for your legal rights. We know the risks of livestock accidents in the Modesto area, and we have represented victims of these crashes.

However, you need to call an Modesto livestock accident attorney today. The more time that goes by, the more difficult it may be to prove your case. We are ready for your call and to work on your case. Contact our office directly to set up your no-cost consultation. We will assess and advise you of your rights and options.

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Serious and Deadly Livestock Accidents

Livestock-related car accidents happen more often than you think. According to a survey, drivers struck over two million animals in one recent one-year period. Although not all of these animals were livestock, motorists often are involved in accidents with farm animals. Most of these crashes occur on highways and roads in rural areas.

An accident with livestock can cause serious injury. Some animals are so big that striking them will cause catastrophic damage to a car. For example, a horse or cow will weigh over 1,000 pounds. Striking these animals is almost like hitting a wall.

In many crashes, you will hit the animal with the front of your car. The impact is like a head-on collision, the most dangerous type of crash. Your airbag can deploy with a significant amount of force. In other cases, you may lose control of your vehicle trying to avoid the animal and end up in a single or multi-car crash. Either way, livestock car accidents have the potential to cause lasting damage to your well-being and even death.

Common Injuries from a Livestock Accident

  • In a livestock accident, you may suffer:
  • Broken bones and fractures
  • Internal injuries and organ damage
  • Head and neck injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Lacerations and contusions
  • Soft tissue injuries

Drivers Have Almost No Time to Avoid an Accident with an Animal

Modesto Livestock Accident Lawyer

Drivers are not expecting a cow or other livestock to be on the roadway. Although the insurance company may argue that a motorist can have stopped in time to avoid the collision, drivers are often startled by the sight of a cow in the roadway.

Traveling at highway speeds gives little time to slow down to avoid an accident, even when they are not exceeding the speed limit. When the driver sees the animal, it is often too late to stop.

In other cases, drivers may lose control of their car when trying to avoid striking the animal. The average driver’s instinct when making a split-second decision is to avoid harming an animal. However, swerving to avoid the animal, or trying to make a quick lane change, can make the situation even more dangerous.

If the driver tries to make a quick lane change, they may venture into a blind spot before they have had a chance to check it properly. Then, they can sideswipe another car and lose control of their own vehicle. They may swerve when making a lane change and end up squarely in the path of another car.

Other Accidents Resulting from Stray Livestock

Since livestock often stray into the middle of rural roads, the driver can end up in the face of oncoming traffic on a two-lane highway. Head-on crashes are the single most dangerous type of car accident and have the highest fatality rates. A driver stands little chance of emerging from a head-on accident unscathed.

Other drivers may jam on the brakes when they see an animal in their path. The problem is that there may be a car following closely behind that cannot stop in time. Then, the driver may be involved in a rear-end car accident. Rear-end car accidents are dangerous at any speed. The effects of the crash are much more likely to be magnified at a higher speed.

In a significant rear-end collision, you will likely suffer from whiplash based on the force unleashed by the accident. Your head and neck will snap forward when the car behind you strikes yours at high speed. The result is that you can suffer a serious neck or back injury. When your head snaps forward, your brain may even strike the wall of your skull, causing a concussion or other traumatic brain injury. Many people who suffer whiplash injuries are never the same again physically, and they will suffer from continuous pain and limited motion for the rest of their life.

You Must Prove Negligence to Receive Financial Compensation

The fact that livestock was involved in an accident does not automatically mean that the owner will be liable in a lawsuit. In other tort cases, there is a legal principle called res ipsa loquitur, which means that “the thing speaks for itself.” The mere fact that an animal was on the roadway, where it should not have been, should be evidence of negligence. However, California law rules out that possibility. An animal can end up in your way, and the owner might not have done anything wrong.

California Food and Agriculture Code Section 16902 addresses the subject of a livestock owner’s responsibility to control their animals. The law states that a livestock owner should not willfully or negligently allow animals to roam on a highway when that highway or road is surrounded on both sides by land that is separated from the road by a fence or enclosure.

The Owner Is Not Always Liable When an Animal Is on the Loose

However, the law also states that the fact that the animal is on the road does not create a presumption that the livestock owner was negligent. Instead, you will need to demonstrate that the owner was negligent and it caused the animal to end up where it should not have been. In other words, showing some degree of fault is necessary to win your case.

In other words, an insurance company or jury will look at whether the owner did anything wrong in allowing the animal to escape. In one case that went to trial, a horse in a stable escaped when the owner opened the door. The horse then either jumped a fence or bolted through an open gate, ending up on the highway, where it was involved in an accident with a car. The court found that the owner was not liable because the owner was not negligent in any way.

In another case, a motorcyclist suffered an injury when they were on a paved road on a private ranch, and a cow charged at them. Here, there was no fence on each side of the road, and cows crossed the road to graze on the other side. The court looked closely at all the facts and determined that there was no duty to construct a fence on a private road. The court did mention that there is a duty to construct a fence to keep animals off public roads.

You May Win When the Enclosure Is Inadequate or Does Not Exist at All

Contrast this with a 1953 case, where a steer ended up in an accident with an inadequate fence to keep it in place. The court held that the accident victim needed to point to the fact that there was insufficient fencing instead of specifically proving where the animal got through the fence.

In a livestock accident case, you have the burden of proof to show your case by a preponderance of the evidence. Note that you do not need to show exactly how the animal got loose. All you need to show is that the owner did not take adequate precautions to keep the animal in place.

An Insurance Company or Court Will Closely Look at the Individual Facts

Courts will go into extensive detail about the facts of each accident case. Therefore, you must have the evidence to prove your case. You will need to hire an attorney with experience in this particular legal area to show that the livestock owner did not take reasonable measures to keep the animal off the public road.

You must hire an attorney shortly after the accident because the livestock owner will take action to repair the fence or install a new barrier shortly after the accident. You need more time to gather proof to show that the owner was negligent.

You have the burden of proof to show negligence in any personal injury case. The good news is that you do not have to prove your case beyond a reasonable doubt. You must demonstrate the facts in your case by a preponderance of the evidence.

How Your Attorney May Prove Your Case

Eyewitness testimony can be very helpful. Here, you will need people who saw the fencing condition at the time of the accident. Although you do not need to point to a specific area with a hole in the fence, witnesses can testify that there was not enough fence in the area.

In addition, your attorney will likely work with an accident reconstruction expert to piece together what happened in your crash. The expert can offer their own opinion about what happened in the accident and how negligence might have caused the livestock to be where they should not have been.

As the discussion of court cases shows, you may need to take your case to court to get the money you deserve. The landowner will have some type of farm insurance policy. The insurance company will likely be as difficult as the average homeowner’s insurance company. They may deny the claim entirely, claiming that you have not met your burden of proof to show that the owner did something wrong. Then, you will need to take your case to court.

Your Damages in a Livestock Accident Case

  • A negligent owner may owe you:
  • The complete cost of your medical care and treatment
  • Lost wages for the time that you missed from work
  • The pain and suffering that you have endured and will continue to experience
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Permanent scarring and disfigurement
  • Your family can file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit

While a specific law applies to livestock, these rules may also apply in other circumstances. Pets can also get loose on the roadway and cause accidents when a driver tries to avoid them. The owner of any animal that is the reason for an accident may be liable. There are often accidents when dogs cross or walk on a roadway, and a driver tries to avoid striking the animal.

Contact a Modesto Livestock Accident Lawyer

Michael Joe Silva

Michael Joe Silva, Livestock Accident Attorney

The attorneys at the Silva Injury Law Firm can help when you or a loved one have suffered an injury in an accident involving livestock. We can work to gather evidence that can prove that the livestock owner was negligent. Then, we will fight for you to receive enough financial compensation for your injuries. Reach out to a Modesto personal injury lawyer.

You can begin the legal process by calling us for your free initial consultation. You can send us a message online or call us today at (209) 457-0738 to speak with one of our attorneys.


“I cannot say enough good things about Silva Injury Law. Everyone starting with the front desk were very professional, honest and hardworking. Michael and his team worked diligently to make sure everything went as quickly and as smooth as possible. Silva Injury Law genuinely care about their clients and I would highly recommend them.”

Silva Injury Law – Modesto Office

515 13th St Suite 203
Modesto, CA 953544

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