Fall in New York means cooler temperatures, beautiful colors, and the anticipation of winter holidays. Outdoorsmen know that fall also brings hunting season – with bow hunting season beginning on October 1 and regular hunting season beginning on November 21, New York’s rural areas will be full of hunters and dogs looking to bring home some game. New Yorkers and visitors driving in rural areas should be aware of the season and take precautions before a drive in the country.
New York law prohibits firing a gun within 500 feet of a school, church, dwelling (unless the dwelling is owned by the hunter), occupied factory, or playground. A bow or crossbow may not be fired within 250 feet of the above locations. It is also illegal to fire a gun or arrow across a public highway. Despite these regulations, however, infractions may occur intentionally or accidentally by hunters. Drivers should exercise caution when driving during hunting season, and treat a rural road as they would a neighborhood with small children – always expecting the unexpected.
On rare occasions, a stray bullet or arrow may hit a vehicle, driver, or occupant. When driving in areas where hunting is allowed, or in any rural area during hunting season, motorists should listen for the sound of hunting dogs, gunfire, or hunters’ voices. If it appears that hunters are too close to the road, a warning blast of the horn can alert them to the presence of a vehicle. Hunters who disobey regulations regarding proximity to roadways, even accidentally, may be liable for injuries caused if an arrow or bullet strikes a vehicle or occupant and possibly causes a crash.
Animals in the Road
During hunting season, deer and other animals may be found beside roads or crossing highways as they try to escape hunters. Generally, it would be difficult to hold a hunter responsible if you hit a deer, since it would be extremely difficult to prove that a particular hunter drove the animal into traffic. If you hit a deer or other wild animal, your only recourse for compensation would be your auto insurance. If you do not maintain collision coverage on your vehicle, you will be responsible for any repairs yourself. On the other hand, if a hunting dog causes an accident, it may be possible to sue the owner of the dog for any damages or injuries from the accident.
What to Do After a Hunting Accident
If you are involved in an accident caused by a hunting dog or a hunter’s weapon, the first priority, of course, is to take care of anyone who is injured. If possible, try to locate the person whose animal or weapon caused the accident. Normally it is the hunters themselves, not the owner of the property on which the hunting takes place, that are responsible for any injuries. In the case of a hunt club, it is possible that the owner of the club could be found liable for injuries if they are found to be negligent.
Talk to a New York personal injury lawyer about your rights as soon as possible after an accident. The personal injury experts at O’Brien & Ford are available at your convenience for a free consultation. Call us at 716-907-7777 or visit our website for more information.