Do you have to file a police report if you hit a deer? | Clearcover Insurance (2023)

Maybe you're on your way to work, meeting up with friends, or just enjoying a drive through nature. Then it happens: a deer darts onto the road. Although you try to miss it, you hit it with your vehicle.

What are you doing now? Do you have to report it to the police?

You'll probably be shaken up when you hit a deer, as you would after any car accident. However, it is strongly recommended that you do your best to remain calm, act reasonable, and follow post-accident laws and best practices to protect yourself and other motorists, including filing police reports.

In this article, we cover how to file a police report after hitting a deer and tips to help you stay safe after the accident.

Filing a police report depends on the state you live in

In some states, wild collisions are almost unheard of, while in others, unfortunately, they are quite common. According to the New York State Department of Transportation, the state is seeing a whopping60,000 to 70,000 collisions between wildlife and vehicles per year!

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Some states have hefty fines if you fail to file a police report after a collision with a deer. So be proactive about your state's laws regarding animal collisions.

The top 5 risk states for hitting wildlife

In states with a high deer population, you havea greater chance of meeting onewith your vehicle. This is especially true in autumn when the deer are mating. If you live in or frequently travel through any of the following states with high deer populations, you should be extra vigilant when on the lookout for deer while driving.


According to the Pennsylvania DOT, they existed5,581 deer-related accidents in 2020. These accidents caused 1,028 injuries and four fatalities.

Under Pennsylvania law, collisions with animals are no-fault accidents, so your insurance company cannot increase your premium for these accidents. These accidents are yourscomprehensive insuranceCover. In Pennsylvania, you only need to file a police report after hitting a deer if your vehicle is inoperable or if the collision results in someone being injured or killed.


The Michigan State Police estimates that there are two million deer in their state. There is aAn estimated 50,000 collisions between deer and vehicles per yearin the state. Your chances of meeting a deer are especially high during the mating season. While it's not a legal requirement to file a police report if you've hit a deer in Michigan, doing so can save you some time filing a claim with your auto insurance company.


In 2020, the Texas Department of Transportation reported6,772 nationwide vehicle collisions with wildlife, most of which were deer.Texas Parks and Wildlife recommends calling themif the animal is still alive and calling the Texas Department of Transportation to remove the animal once it is dead. If you intend to make an insurance claim for vehicle damage, or if the collision results in personal injury or death, you must file a police report if you hit a deer in Texas.

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A study by the California Roadkill Observation System notes that there were such cases between 2009 and 202027,134 reports of animal-vehicle collisions. 61% of these reported collisions were attributed to mule deer.

While California does not require filing a police report for hitting a deer, motorists are encouraged to call the California Highway Patrol to deal compassionately with the deer if it is alive but injured.

North Carolina

According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, there were18,607 vehicle accidents related to deer in 2020. The state's abundance of country roads and wooded expanses make it prime habitat for deer — and unfortunately, for deer bumps as well. Collisions with deer in North Carolina are highest in October, November, and December, with the vast majority of incidents occurring in November alone. Hitting a deer in North Carolina requires you to file a police report if a human was injured or killed, or if you wish to make a vehicle damage insurance claim.

Consequences of not reporting a deer accident

As mentioned above, some states require motorists to file a police report when they collide with a deer, while others do not. Laws about what to do if you meet a deer vary from state to state, as do the consequences of not reporting it. If you fail to report a wild animal collision in any of the following states, here are some of the consequences you can expect:

  • Georgia:If you hit a deer and the animal is lying on the side of the road, you may drive off (if your vehicle is drivable). However, if the deer is in the middle of the road, you must file a police report so the relevant authorities can move the animal.

  • West Virginia:It is not uncommon for people to want to take home a fresh deer carcass to eat. In West Virginia, if you hit a deer and want to keep it, you must call 911, report the incident, and ask for a non-token for it. Bringing a deer home without this tag is illegal, with heavy fines and a sentence of up to a year in prison. If you don't want to bring the deer home, you don't have to file a police report and you can leave the scene if your vehicle is drivable - although you must notify authorities if the deer is on the roadway.

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  • New York:Hitting a deer in New York requires a police report if the resulting vehicle damage exceeds $1,000 or if you or a passenger are physically injured. Failure to report can result in hefty fines and even imprisonment.

6 steps to take after hitting a deer with your vehicle

Understanding your state's laws regarding deer-car collisions will help you know when and how to file a police report if you've hit a deer. But what further action should you take, especially if there is vehicle damage? Here are six steps to follow immediately after a collision with a deer.

1) Get your car to safety and away from the animal

If your vehicle is drivable, pull it to the side of the road to minimize the chance of another motorist hitting you. Turn on your hazard lights for extra visibility. Stay away from the deer as injured wildlife can be dangerous.

2) Inspect your vehicle for damage

Estimate the damage caused by the collision. What damage has your vehicle sustained? Has anyone been hurt? Sometimes hitting a deer can cause serious injury and excessive vehicle damage, rendering it undriveable.

3) Call the authorities

Don't just leave the scene, as you could be charged with hit and run in states that require filing a report for wild animal collisions. Dial 911 or the local police department and explain what happened. You may be required to answer some questions and provide your contact information. Then they will send out law enforcement agencies to file a police report.

4) Take photos and document the accident

Use your smart device or camera to take photos of the scene from different angles. Photograph the property damage, the deer and all vehicles involved in the accident.

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5) Submit an insurance claim through your insurance company

Call your insurance agent or insurer and tell them what happened. If your vehicle is damaged, file a claim. Your representative can tell you what your insurance policy covers and give you information about your deductible. Usually,The comprehensive insurance covers damagecaused by hitting a deer.

6) Have your vehicle towed or drive your car to your destination

If your vehicle is too damaged to drive, call a tow truck. If the damage is minor and the car is still safe, you can probably continue to your destination. In states that require a police report to be filed, you must wait for the police to release you from the scene.

What to do when wildlife accident results in multiple car collision

Sometimes motorists swerve to avoid hitting a deer and may accidentally collide with another vehicle. If this happens to you, first make sure you and your passengers are safe. Then check the people in the other vehicle.

Be sure to file a police report if other motorists are involved in your wild vehicle collision. That way, you have an external record of what happened, the damage and injuries sustained, and a determination of fault. Send the report to your insurer and exchange insurance information with the other driver. If someone is injured in the other car, you may also want to discuss the incident with a personal injury attorney. This will ensure you are well informed if the other motorist decides to take legal action.

Get comprehensive coverage with Clearcover

Driving where there is a large wildlife population presents challenges and risks. Hitting a deer can result in significant property damage and personal injury. Make sure you understand your state's laws about filing a police report after a wildlife collision. As always, reduce the risk of serious injury by practicingsafe driving behaviorand buckle up.

Hitting a deer with your vehicle can be stressful, but with good insurance, the experience can go a lot smoother. At Clearcover, we offer auto insurance coverage that's smarter, faster, and keeps you in the driver's seat. Take control of your reporting andRequest a free and non-binding offer today!

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