Auto accidents are awful. Even a minor fender bender can be unsettling. However, if you’ve had the misfortune of hitting someone’s pet while driving, in addition to the guilt you feel, you may wonder what the legal consequences will be.
Is it Illegal to Hit a Pet and Drive Away?
Yes; it is illegal to hit a pet and drive away. While it is indisputable that pets are cherished family members, the laws in Florida regard them as property. That does not mean that it’s ok for a driver to hit a pet and leave the scene of the accident. Florida Statute 316.061 establishes that when the driver of a vehicle causes property damage, the driver is required to immediately stop the car and remain at the scene of the accident until they provide the following:
- Full Name
- Vehicle Registration
- Driver’s License
If no one is around to provide this information to, they are obligated to report the accident to the nearest police officer or police department.
Failing to stop and leave the required information constitutes a misdemeanor in the second degree. This means that the punishment could be up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.00. This is in addition to the civil legal liabilities such as vet bills, cost of the pet, and burial or cremation if the pet dies as a result of the accident.
What to Do if You Accidentally Hit a Pet While Driving
If you accidentally hit a pet while driving, make sure to stop your car in a way that is not obstructing traffic. If your car has been damaged to the point where you can’t move it (if you hit a horse or cow, for example), do what you can to remove the vehicle from the road while waiting for tow truck assistance.
If you’re confused about how to proceed, talk to an attorney to find out if there are any mitigating circumstances that could reduce your liability.
Call Clark Law If You’ve Been In a Car Accident in Tampa Bay
If you accidentally hit a pet while driving, call us at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation. At Clark Law, we have experienced attorneys who regularly represent clients involved in motor vehicle accidents, and we can help you determine the best next step.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.