A 24-year-old mother and her two children were killed after their car hit an alligator on I-95 in Orangeburg County last month. They were traveling from their Florida home to Myrtle Beach for a week of vacation.

After hitting the 9-foot-alligator, the family’s car traveled into the median, struck a tree and burst into flames, the SC Highway Patrol said. The mother and her children, ages 2 and 4, died of burn injuries.

The father of the family was in Pennsylvania for work training, and he learned about the tragedy through a phone call from the SC Highway Patrol.

“Everyone keeps saying, ‘If you need anything, let me know,” he told reporters. “I’d love to have my family back, but obviously no one can do that.”

Does Insurance Pay for a Collision with Wildlife?

This is clearly an example of the worst possible outcome after a collision with wildlife. But, even when no one dies, these kinds of accidents can leave drivers and passengers in the lurch.

Even though it’s obviously a collision, a vehicle run-in with wildlife is not covered by collision insurance. You would have to have comprehensive coverage to make a claim – but it may not make sense to file a comprehensive claim – you’ll need to find out the cost of repairs and do some math.

If your deductible is $1,000, and the repair shop estimates that it will cost $500 to repair your vehicle, you would not be covered. If the damage was $1,300, you would have to pay the deductible, and then the insurance company would pay $300.

However, if you do not have an accident forgiveness plan, you could see your premiums increase. You should find out how much your rates will go up first – but, depending on the amount of damage and the amount of your coverage, it may be worthwhile to file a claim.

If you swerve and avoid an animal but strike another vehicle, a tree, or another object, then you would file a collision claim rather than a comprehensive claim.

Can Anyone Be Held Responsible?

In most one-vehicle wildlife collision cases, the state, county, or city cannot be held liable – it’s just not practical to expect wildlife officials, police, or anyone else to prevent wildlife from entering the road.

Even when warning signs are posted, drivers cannot know exactly when an animal will enter the roadway, and even the most experienced and attentive driver may have difficulty avoiding a large animal on the road in the middle of the night.

Although ordinarily no one is liable for wildlife on the road, other drivers or municipalities may be liable when they are involved in the accident or when they are responsible for unsafe conditions on the highway.

Fatal Car Wrecks in Myrtle Beach

With tourists flocking to Myrtle Beach for summer vacation and traffic picking up, it’s important to stay alert and drive defensively.

Here are some other auto accidents that have happened in the area recently:

  • Three people died in an accident in early May at Robert Grissom Parkway and Executive Avenue. Myrtle Beach police said the crash involved a motorcycle and several other vehicles.
  • In January, a New Jersey man who was not wearing a seatbelt died in an accident in Pawleys Island after the SUV he was riding in collided with a Jeep. Witnesses said the Jeep, which was struck as it turned in front of the SUV, “flipped in the air and landed on its side in the ditch next to a utility pole.” Three others were transported to hospitals.
  • A Loris man died after his pickup collided with a tractor-trailer on Highway 9 in Horry County in February.
  • A one-vehicle accident left two dead and one person pinned under a car in November in North Myrtle Beach. The car overturned in the woods between the Cherry Grove exit and the Sea Mountain Highway overpass. The person who was pinned beneath the car was transported to a hospital.

Car Wreck Attorneys in Myrtle Beach, Columbia, Conway, and Charleston, SC

If you have been hurt in an accident, call the auto accident lawyers at Coastal Law now at (843) 488-5000 or fill out our contact form on our website for a free evaluation of your case.

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