California’s Rural Community Experiences Increased Auto Collisions with Farm Animals


While California is often associated with images of large suburban homes, sunny beaches or vineyards, the reality is that much of California remains rural.  Californians take pride in the thriving farming, ranching and animal breeding industries that exist here.

In rural communities in California, car accidents involving animals occur on a regular basis.  Most collisions involving animals in California involve either cattle being raised for the meat industry, dairy cows, ostriches or emus raised for the meat industry, or horses kept for riding in the rural community.  Additionally, as many California suburbans encroach into previous rural territories, this phenomenon occurs frequently.

While living in rural communities often means decreased danger in the form of petty theft, violent crime and murder, one of the down sides of traveling or living in a rural area involves serious car accidents when one of these large animals are wandering on one of California’s windy rural roads.  Some of these large farm animals are between 1,600 to 2,000 pounds obstacles. A collision with them can not only be serious but deadly.

The Edward A Smith Law Offices had handled many collisions involving farm animals. These collisions most often were one of the following scenarios:

  • A head on collision due to a animal traveling unexpectedly across the road.
  • A rear end collision when the driver stops to allow the escaped farm animal to cross the roadway and an inattentive motorist behind strikes the rear of the stopped vehicle.
  • A startled driver swerves attempting to avoid the farm animal that is loose on the road and then subsequently strikes a tree, fence, mailbox or other standing structure due to swerving.
  • Swerving into another lane to avoid an animal and in the process strikes another vehicle.

Does the owner of these animals bear any responsibility? Yes. Animal and livestock owners have a duty to properly control their animals so they do not intrude onto highways. Owners also have a duty to securely, and adequately, fence their properties and confine their animals.  To learn more about the liability issues involved, see my website:

Generally, in cases involving livestock or farm animals, it must be established:

  • That the accident is of a kind which ordinarily does not occur in the absence of someone’s carelessness;
  • That the accident was caused by something within the defendant’s exclusive control; and
  • That the accident was not due to any voluntary act by the plaintiff.

On the other hand, there is no presumption in California of the livestock owner’s liability simply because there is a motor vehicle collision caused by an animal.

If you or someone you care for has been injured in a car wreck caused by an animal in the roadway, contact the Edward A Smith Law Offices as soon as possible. We can guide you through the legal process and we will do our very best to secure a positive outcome for you and your family.  Our office, established in 1982, has successfully handled many auto accident claims involving livestock and can provide free no-obligation advice.  We can be reached via telephone (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 or via our website.

Client Reviews

  • Me and my wife; had a car accident. We were amazed how easy, professional, friendly attorney Ed Smith is along with his staff. Everybody is amazing. Thank you so much, we are very impressed!
  • Ed Smith and his office team took on a difficult personal injury case on my behalf and for the passenger in my car. Ed is a top- notch attorney. His staff couldn't have been more helpful and kind. No need to look elsewhere. I give Ed Smith my highest recommendation.
  • Ed and Robert have been taking great care of my husband and I for the past 5+ years. They are always there when you have a problem and a quick resolution! Even when the issues have nothing to do with them. They are willing to help ease the pain off your shoulders. They are as good as it gets! Thank you again for everything.
  • Very professional. Great team, staff and service all around. Mr Smith was very honest, straight forward with his advice. He gives the word "attorney" an honest reputation. I will seek his council anytime, and would recommend him at the drop of a dime.
  • I would highly recommend Ed Smith to any friends or family in need of a personal injury attorney. Ed, and his staff, are very caring on top of being very experienced in this field. The staff always keeps you informed of the status of your case and they are always easy to reach by phone.
  • Edward Smith law offices provide competent, thorough, and personable help for victims of personal injury. When you first meet the staff you know you contacted the right office. This law office treats clients like people. I recommend this office to anyone seeking representation regarding personal injury.