What Happens If You Accidentally Run Over a Dog

What Happens If You Accidentally Run Over a Dog in TN?

Animals of all types, including dogs, cats, deer, squirrels, and birds, are often hard to see when you are driving, or they may come completely out of nowhere. Animal collisions are all too common, with insurance company State Farm estimating that over 1.9 million animal collision insurance claims were filed in the U.S. between July 2021 and June 2022 alone. And while deer collisions may come to mind first when it comes to accidentally hitting an animal, we want to see what happens when you accidentally run over a dog.

A quick Google search will tell you that dogs being hit by vehicles is common, both within the United States and internationally. Hitting a dog accidentally can be a stressful situation, especially as you may not be sure what happens next.

Below, we take a look at what happens if you accidentally run over a dog and how to deal with the situation.

How Do You Deal with Accidentally Running Over an Animal?

In the immediate aftermath of accidentally running over an animal, here are some common steps to take:

  1. Pull over to the side of the road when you can do so safely and do not leave the scene.
  2. Check to see if you have been injured in any way. Depending on the size of the dog and how you accidentally hit them, you may sustain injuries.
  3. Check the dog. If you can, move the dog off the road or if it is in a location where it might obstruct traffic.
  4. In some cases, the dog’s owner may be around. If they are not present, check with the dog for tags to contact the owner.
  5. Get in touch with police and animal services like the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA). This will allow you to report the incident to both the police and animal services and they will be able to take the dog to a veterinarian for medical care.
  6. If needed, seek medical attention for yourself.

Does Car Insurance Cover Hitting a Dog?


Most types of comprehensive car insurance coverage will cover damage sustained to your vehicle caused by animals, including dogs. You may want to check on the specifics of what your car insurance will cover with your insurance provider.

Depending on whether or not the dog’s owner can be located, their insurance may cover any damage to your vehicle that is sustained. There are state laws in place that address dogs being leashed and being allowed to run at large. In the summer of 2023, there were even changes made to Nashville animal ordinances that require owners to have “physical control” of their animals when off of their own property.

These laws may hold the owner responsible for their dog running free.

What Happens if You Accidentally Run Over a Dog?

Depending on the circumstances of the situation, what happens after you accidentally run over a dog may vary.

If your actions as a driver are found to be negligent, you may be held liable for any damages to the dog and its owner such as veterinarian bills and associated losses. As outlined under Tennessee Code 44-17-403, if someone’s pet is killed or has sustained injuries that result in death “caused by the unlawful and intentional, or negligent, act of another or the animal of another,” the individual who caused the actions may be held liable for up to $5,000.

But if your actions are not found to be negligent, you may have grounds for damages against the dog’s owner.

We suggest consulting with a Nashville car accident lawyer following any accident that involves a dog as they will be able to provide you with legal advice specific to your situation.

Further Questions? Consult with a Nashville Car Accident Lawyer

What happens following the accidental hitting of a dog can be confusing, especially if you are unsure of exactly what your legal rights are. But that is where the help of an experienced Nashville car accident lawyer can come in.

Here at Heit Law, LLC, Corey Heit is here to help. He has represented personal injury clients for years and has a dedicated focus on personal injury law. He will be able to answer any questions you may have if you have recently hit a dog on accident.

Connect with his Nashville, Tennessee office today over the phone at 615-962-3000 or by reaching out online.

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