Being in any car accident is an incredibly stressful experience, but hitting a dog with your car is often especially difficult. The trauma and panic many drivers experience after hitting a dog can make them question what the right thing to do is and what they are required to do by law. This confusion only makes the situation worse, so here is an overview of what to do after hitting a dog in New York.

What New York Law Says About Hitting a Dog with Your Car

It is illegal to hit a dog and drive off in New York. In fact, state law requires drivers to take special steps if any of the following animals are involved in a car accident:

  • Cats

  • Dogs

  • Horses

  • Any cattle animal

You must notify the owner of the pet, a police officer, or a community member if you hit one of these animals with your car. There are also additional requirements in New York law about what you need to do after hitting a dog with your car. You must provide the following information when reporting the incident:

  • Your name

  • Your address

  • Your driver’s license number

  • Your car insurance policy number

  • Your insurance expiration date

New York law also requires that you attempt to provide assistance to an injured animal or take them somewhere to receive medical attention.

Consequences of Hitting a Dog

There are legal considerations regarding hitting a dog with your car in New York. Aside from the fact that hitting a dog is harmful to the animal and the owner, pets like dogs are often considered personal property. This means that you could be responsible for any damages you cause to the animal.

You could also be fined up to $100 if you fail to stop or report the incident. This fine increases to as much as $150 for a first offense if the dog you hit is a service dog.

Steps to Take if You Hit a Dog

If you accidentally hit a dog with your car, you should follow the requirements in state law to prevent any legal consequences. The required steps may include the following:

  • Stop your vehicle and try to locate the owner of the dog

  • Notify a police officer or another responsible party if the owner cannot be located

  • Provide the required information, including your name and insurance information

State law does not explicitly require you to render medical aid to an injured dog. The law states that a driver who hits a dog with their vehicle must take reasonable and appropriate action to get the dog the necessary attention. Contacting a person or agency who can assist the dog would likely satisfy this requirement. If you do decide to help the dog yourself, you should exercise extreme caution when approaching or attempting to handle the injured animal. Dogs may become aggressive when in pain or scared.

In addition to the above steps, it may be necessary to notify your insurance provider and file a police report if the damage exceeds $1,000. If you aren’t sure what your next steps are or have questions about whether you made the right choices, contact a car accident law firm for guidance.

Who is Responsible for an Accident Involving a Dog?

Are drivers at fault for hitting a dog if the animal runs into traffic or is otherwise uncontrolled by their owner? There are many factors that impact the liability of such accidents.

Obligations of Pet Owners

Drivers may not be the only responsible party after hitting a dog with their vehicle. New York dog owners have responsibilities, as well, including the requirement to keep their dogs under control and adhere to leash laws. Failing to keep a dog on a leash could lead to the animal running into traffic, which could mean the owner shares fault for the accident.

A New York Car Accident Attorney Can Help

From damage to the animal and your vehicle to the legal requirements of stopping to render aid, understanding New York’s law regarding accidents involving dogs is challenging. What is required changes depending on the damage your vehicle sustains. You may also have questions about what you are required to do if you are afraid of dogs or are worried an injured dog may attack you. These are valid concerns.

Responsibility and obligations are not always clear, which is why contacting an accident attorney is recommended. Contact Seitelman Law Offices, P.C. to schedule a free consultation and discuss your accident with an experienced New York lawyer.