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As a driver who has had a few "close calls" with a "deer in the headlights," such events can be terrifying, cause injury and even death. At ABRAMS LANDAU, we have successfully represented clients who have been injured in deer-reltaed car crashes as well as commercial vehicle owners whose expensive cars have been "Totaled" after a crash with these populous animals. Fairfax County officials say the county has an estimated 250,000 deer, and more than 48,000 Virginia drivers are projected to file insurance claims this year for damage sustained as a result of a deer-vehicle collision according to a Fairfax Times newstory.

"Studies show that nearly one in every 136 Virginia drivers will have an accident involving deer in the next 12 months," said Fairfax County Wildlife Biologist Victoria Monroe, citing data from the Virginia Department of Transportation and State Farm insurance company. Virginia is projected to rank fifth out of 50 states in 2009 for all deer-related automobile accident claims filed nationwide, and 45 percent of Virginia claims are expected to be recorded by the end of this November, Monroe said. "[Deer breeding] season began in early September and lasts until late March," she said, adding that "October and November are especially precarious for drivers."

Melanie Stokes of VDOT (Virginia Department of Transportation) said there were 218 deer-related car accidents recorded in Fairfax County in 2007 and 179 in 2008. While none of those was listed as fatal, there were three fatal accidents recorded annually statewide in both 2007 and in 2008. "The average cost of a deer-related accident, including medical costs, is $3,000, according to the Insurance Information Institute," said John Townsend of AAA Mid-Atlantic. "That means if you multiply that by the projected 48,000 claims, Virginia will account for $14.4 million in deer-related accident costs this year. Nationwide, the cost is estimated to top $4.6 billion in 2009." "Collision with a deer or any other animal is covered under your comprehensive auto insurance and will not raise your rates," said Katie Walthall of ABRAMS LANDAU Herndon neighbor Griffin-Owens insurance. "We see a ton of them each year."

Monroe says drivers still need to be vigilant and aware, especially this time of year. She says four "hot spots" within the county are particularly dangerous:

  • the 5000 block of Pleasant Valley Drive in Chantilly;
  • the intersection of Braddock Road and Fairfax County Parkway in Burke;
  • the 7000 block of Ox Road in Fairfax; and,
  • the intersection of Sully Road and Westfields Blvd. in Chantilly.

"We have flashing variable sign boards at these locations," she said. "But motorists throughout the county should always be watching for eye shine along roadsides and immediately begin to slow down if they spot a deer, since they tend to travel in packs." In tomorrow’s post, we will share the police safety tips to avoid crashing with a deer or herd of deer.

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