Alabama Law: When You Crash into a Cow

Jun 20, 2021 | Allen A. Ritchie

Cow on road


What happens when your car collides with livestock in our state? You might think that the farmer’s insurance will kick in. But that would be wrong.

In Alabama, if you hit a bull (or cow, or donkey, or any livestock), you cannot sue the farmer unless he or she placed the animal in the road. That is a little hard to prove.

So that you can read the law for yourself, here is part of Alabama Code section 3-5-3: “ … the owner of any stock or animal shall not be liable for any damages to any motor vehicle or any occupant thereof suffered, caused by or resulting from a collision with such stock or other animal …” As lawyer writing goes, that is pretty clear. By the way, I added the bolding.

The farmer is not totally off the hook. The cow owner is responsible for any damage to crops and ornamental landscaping. Yes, I know it is an odd combination, but that is our Alabama legislature at work. Apparently, we have to protect those Ficus trees.

Alabamians hitting animals with their cars is more severe than you might think. Though I could not find statistics on cow hitting, Alabamians usually hit thousands of deer each year, resulting in millions of dollars in damages.

According to one trooper friend of mine, nighttime is especially dangerous. On many of our dark country roads, you often cannot see an animal, even a large one, until you are upon it. This results in hitting the animal at full speed, which, he says, is like hitting a brick wall.

Usually, in an injury case, you look for the person who did or didn’t do something which caused the accident. However in this case, it doesn’t matter even if the farmer didn’t repair a fence or intentionally left a gate open. Fixing your new F-150 will be up to you.

If you suffer a personal injury like an auto accident, or slip and fall, you can talk to us at the Law Firm of Eiland and Ritchie for free. We want to help you get back on your feet.

Also, join us on NBC 15 LawCall, the legal call-in TV show here in Mobile every Sunday night at 10:30, right after the news. We will take your calls live.

Allen Ritchie

Alabama Personal Injury Lawyer