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Caution: Reindeer Crossing

By: Emma Neynens, Associate Lawyer

This holiday season it is important to watch out for reindeer crossings. It is a busy time of year for everyone, including wildlife. The unfortunate thing about reindeer (and other wildlife) is that they do not carry insurance. However, if you are injured, there are still a few options for recovery.

Single car collision

Driver – if you are the only vehicle involved in the accident with the reindeer and you are the driver, you are only entitled to Section B accident benefits. This includes medical and rehabilitation coverage as well as loss of income benefits. If the driver dies as a result of the accident, there are death benefits available through Section B as well.

Passenger – if you are the only vehicle involved in the accident with the reindeer and you are the passenger, you are also entitled to Section B accident benefits. You may be entitled to recover damages against the driver if you can prove that the accident was avoidable. This means showing that the driver knew or ought to have known that reindeer would be out. For example, on Route 126 there are multiple moose warning signs to alert drivers to slow down at night and be cautious of moose crossings. If it can be shown that the driver was travelling too fast in the circumstances or not keeping a proper lookout, you as a passenger can recover against the driver. If the reindeer was already in the middle of the road and did not suddenly appear in the driver’s lane of travel, that can also be an argument for your recovery as a passenger.

Multiple car collision

If there are two or more cars involved with the collision with the reindeer, it becomes a question of who liability can be attributed to, if anyone. You will always be entitled to Section B benefits because those are no fault benefits. With respect to other damages, it is a fact specific inquiry to determine whether you or one of the other drivers had an opportunity to avoid the collision with the moose.

Inevitable accident

The most common defence to a claim relating to a reindeer collision is that of “inevitable accident”, which means that given all of the circumstances, the accident could not have been foreseen or prevented by the exercise of reasonable precautions. It is often used with respect to sudden weather changes, such as white outs, or black ice as well.

When it comes to collisions with reindeers, for the defence of inevitable accident to be successful, it needs to be shown that the driver was exercising all reasonable precaution, but the collision still occurred. For example, if the driver was travelling on a roadway without any warning signs, in broad daylight, and a reindeer ran into the middle of the road very quickly, giving the driver no opportunity to avoid it. This could also occur if the driver came around a turn in the roadway and the reindeer suddenly appeared. Where the driver has a sufficient line of sight and the edge of the roadway is clear, there is a greater opportunity to see the reindeer prior to collision and thus avoid the accident.

While we all love that reindeer help Santa Claus during the holiday season, collisions with them can be very serious and sometimes fatal. If you are involved in a collision involving a reindeer or any other wildlife, the Mike Murphy Accident Team has the knowledge and experience to help you with any damages that you may be entitled to.

DISCLAIMER: The publications on this website are intended to provide information of a general nature and not legal advice. The information contained in this publication is current to the date of the publication and may be subject to change following the publication date.

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12 oct 2021

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