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Hit a stray horse with my car, who's liable?
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Hit a stray horse with my car, who's liable?

I can't seem to find any information on stray livestock liability, can someone help me?
About two weeks ago my partner and I were travelling 100kms an hour along a highway at 11pm when we hit a large horse. The horse ran from the right hand side of the road, hit the front right corner of the car, smashed the windscreen and flew up over the car crushing the roof. We're extremely lucky to be alive and the car (first thought to be written off) is currently being fixed. We found out later that the horse was on agistment and the gate was left open which is how the horse got out. The insurance company has told us the owner is not liable and my partner will have to pay the excess. He was only a few months away from rating one for life. What's going on? Can anyone shed some light on why we should have to pay for someone elses carelessness?
Additional Details
The accident happened in Victoria


Hummmm, You would think that the owner of the horse would be liable. I will do some research and check back with you here.

What state to you live in, or where the accident happened?

I am assuming you live in Australia? This is all I found.

According to Australian Traffic Codes, the owner of the livestock is liable for damage caused by unrestrained livestock unless it is found that the driver was operating in an unsafe manner.

Check on the web for Australian Traffic Codes.


isn't the horse owned by anyone? if so, they are liable! you need the owner's house insurance policy. take him to the magistrate!

Chris M
hello. Probably the horse's fault, but who was driving the car willy-nilly at night time. Even worse, the horse probably isn't insured. (tongue in cheek)

cheri h
need to be in control of vehicle and prepared to make a quick stop if necessary

Scott H
I'm in America, but who do you think is liable, the horse? I would think hitting a horse is no different than hitting any animal. They aren't responsible for their actions.

I'm sorry for your situation, it's unfortunate.

William B
I don't know where you are, but in Missouri the livestock owner is liable for it because it should have been fenced in. My brother hit a cow once and the farmer had to pay for it. The only problem is that no one wants to admit that it is their livestock after someone has hit it.

In the US (at least in NJ, but I believe basic insurance law) - The owner of the animal is responsible, logially - but according to insurance companies, this should be covered under your COMPREHENSIVE coverage, which should not increase your insurance rates if they pay out. Comprehensive coverage covers fire, theft, vandalism, acts of god, etc. They consider an animal an act of god because you can't control it (great news for those in the areas where deer run rampant). You should just have to pay your deductible.

cameron greene
the insurance company is wrong on this account the owner of the horse is liable, for the animal and is liable for the damage his property (the horse) did to your car and any medical treatment that was uptained. if a fence was left open the horse is not a stray, i would uptain a civil lawyer and sue the owner of the animal for damages and your insurance company should know better this kind of stuff happens all the time

Dennis in Central Florida
A friend of mine hit a horse in California in 1970 hit a horse in a fog at 3:00 AM the body came thru the windscreen and killed his wife. broke 3 disks in his neck too, and totaled the car. the horse was in an unfenced yard so the owner was not at fault, if pasture was fenced and horse had exited via a gate left neglectfully open, then owner would have been liable.

Any stock that is out on the road and does get hit by traffic, is usually the owners responsiblity and there for are responsible for the damage of your vehicle. If the horse is on agistment then I would think that the owner of the land who has the horse on agistment has also most responsibility.
Perhaps your insurance company feel that your partner didnt drive to the condition of the road ( being night ), and that although you were doing the legal speed limit, could have been for careful? Try ringing vic roads and asking them. I dont know entirely your situation but as the accident occured on the road, then TAC maybe able to compensate?
I do know farmers have liability for their cattle if one is out and does get hit by a car, and have to pay for damages.
If you find that you have not got any answers, then seek legal advise, as you maybe able to sue the land owner or owner of the horse for compensation of your vehicle.
Its sad when something like this happens as that poor horse is not at fault either, wrong place at the wrong time. In actual fact the person who has the horse in their care on agistment, I feel should be held accountable. But that is my opinion.
Good Luck

Marty Rocks
Unfortunately you are liable for the damage because owners of animals are not under any obligation to keep them on their property. There was a guy up here that hit a bull which wrote off his car and put him in hospital. He not only had to pay his excess but also had to pay the farmer compensation for loss of stock. It's a pretty stupid situation because if the farmer had been maintaining his fences properly the bull wouldn't has escaped in the first place. It's pretty easy to see who is in the wrong, but unfortunately the law just isn't on your side on this one.


the horse.

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