Hitting a dog with your car is an unfortunate situation for all parties involved. You may have to contend with vehicle damage and legal obligations, while the dog may suffer serious injuries. Knowing what to do if you hit a dog with your car in San Antonio could help you remain calm and do the right thing. Your goals should be to help the dog and protect your legal rights.

What to Do After the Accident

Immediately after you realize you hit a dog, stop your car and pull to the side of the road. Get out of your vehicle when it is safe to do so and return to the dog. You have a legal obligation to stop and render aid to a dog that you hit. Driving off and leaving the injured dog is cruel and could also lead to legal trouble. In Texas, it is against the law to unreasonably abandon an animal. Hitting a dog and leaving the scene could meet the definition of this crime, resulting in punishments for animal cruelty.

If you need to, move the injured dog out of the road to prevent other vehicles from striking it. If the dog appears safe where it is, avoid moving it until help arrives. Stay with the animal and use traffic cones or hazard lights to warn other drivers. If you need to move the dog, be aware that it could lash out or bite you out of fear or pain. Use a blanket or jacket to protect your arms, if available.

The best way to help a dog that was involved in a car accident is to call professionals. Call the City of San Antonio Animal Care Services at (210) 207-4738 or call the police (911) to report the accident. They will send someone to the scene to render assistance to the dog. Stopping at the scene and making the call could save the animal’s life. A veterinarian could also scan the dog for a microchip if it does not have a collar.

If the owner is present at the scene, explain what happened but do not admit fault. Exchange names and contact information with the pet owner. Take photographs of any damage to your vehicle. If the owner is not present, check the dog for tags and contact the owner. You may also be able to ask any witnesses if they know who owns the dog. If you have taken reasonable steps to contact the owner of the dog, you may leave once a veterinarian arrives at the scene.

Who Pays for Your Car’s Repairs?

If hitting the dog damaged your vehicle, call your car insurance company to ask about coverage. Comprehensive or collision insurance should cover property damage. File a damage claim with your insurer to receive a check to cover repairs. Locating the owner can help you receive this money since in most cases the insurance company will subrogate the claim by filing against the pet owner.

If you do not have comprehensive car insurance coverage, you may be able to file a claim directly with the pet owner’s homeowners insurance policy instead. Homeowners insurance generally covers damages from dogs, since dogs are technically property the policyholder owns. The pet owner will need to admit fault for you to recover compensation for vehicle repairs in this case.

Who Pays for the Veterinary Costs?

In most cases, the person who brings the dog to the vet will be responsible for paying the bills. This is why it is important to call the police or animal control. If you do take the dog to the vet and do not know the identity of the owner, speak to the office about the situation. The vet may have a standard procedure for this type of situation. If the owner is present, he or she will pay the veterinary costs. Unless it was an unusual situation in which you negligently or intentionally struck the dog, the pet owner will be responsible for veterinary care for allowing the dog to run into the road.