Is It Illegal to Hit a Deer and Drive Off?

Bright yellow deer sign on the side of a mountain road.

More than 2 million animal accidents¹ happen each year in the United States. Most of these accidents are with deer. Even in Florida, there are thousands of deer collisions each year.

If you hit a deer, what are you supposed to do? Do you have to stop? Do you have to call the police? Our car accident lawyers explain what to do if you hit a deer.

Is It Illegal To Hit a Deer and Drive Off in Florida?

If you hit a deer and didn’t call the police, it’s almost always illegal. In Florida, a driver must stop and call the police whenever it results in apparent damage of $500 or more, which describes almost every accident involving a deer.

Even if a deer hit-and-run is not illegal in your state, proper road etiquette would be to let authorities know so the animal can be attended to.

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Are You Supposed To Report Hitting a Deer?

Nearly every car-deer accident falls into the category of needing to be reported to the police. When an injury to a person is evident or even a possibility, you must call the police as soon as possible. Without injuries, if there is any vehicle damage at all, there’s a good chance the cost of repairs is more than $500.

It may be possible for a deer collision to fall into the category of the driver not being legally required to call the police. When no one is hurt, and the damage to the vehicle is extremely slight or non-existent ($500 or less), you may not be required to call the police. However – It’s always best to call the police anytime you hit a deer.

If your collision falls into the small exception of not having to call the police, Florida law² still requires you to submit a crash report. The report is due within ten days.

Why Do I Need to Report Hitting a Deer?

Driver talking on the phone while looking at accident damage to her car.

There are multiple reasons that it’s important to report a deer accident:

1. You May Not Appreciate the Extent of the Damage at the Time of the Accident

It doesn’t take much to get to $500 of vehicle damage. Nearly any bodywork will be that much, plus any mechanical work and parts replacement that needs to be done. If there’s any physical damage at all, make an accident report, deer can cause a lot of damage that may not be evident at first glance. If you’re wrong about your assessment, you could receive a ticket for failing to report an accident. If there’s any doubt, it’s best to report it to the authorities.

2. The Deer May Pose a Danger to Others

Even if you’re okay after a car-deer accident, the deer may pose a danger to others. Deer collisions are a common event responded to by law enforcement. They can ensure that the public is safe and that roads are clear. Law enforcement is trained and experienced in responding to animal accidents, and they can help you in the best possible way.

3. It’s Necessary for Your Insurance

There’s a good chance that you have insurance that will cover some of your losses. Your no-fault insurance may cover medical bills, lost wages, and vehicle repairs. If you purchased comprehensive coverage, it may provide additional coverage.

Your insurer needs a report that the accident occurred. Without a call to law enforcement, insurance may question what happened and the source of vehicle damage. It’s much easier to get your repairs covered when you have made a police report.

What Is the Law for Calling the Police When You Hit a Deer?

The law in Florida³ for hitting a deer requires the vehicle driver to report any accident resulting in injury, death, or apparent property damage of $500 or more. The driver must make the report immediately and by the quickest means.

Do You Have To Report a Deer Hit Even if It Runs Away?

Woman takes pictures by smartphone of car damage after road accident.

If you hit a deer and it ran off, take pictures of any damage to your car after hitting deer along with any evidence that an animal was injured. If there is damage to your vehicle, you should call the authorities. If there is no damage, you may drive your car.

Can You Get a Ticket for Hitting a Deer?

It’s possible to get a ticket for hitting a deer, but not likely. Florida law requires all drivers to go at a safe speed, with due regard for road conditions and other traffic. In other words, you must leave enough distance to safely stop behind the vehicle in front of you, if necessary.

Of course, you don’t know that a deer is going to run in front of your car. Maybe if you’re in an area known to have deer, or someone has warned you that there are deer in the area, you could be ticketed for not adjusting to the conditions. However, it’s uncommon to get a ticket for hitting a deer.

When they respond to the deer accident, the police can investigate other offenses. For example, if the police arrive at the scene and the driver smells like alcohol, they can investigate for drunk driving. But just the act of hitting a deer is usually considered no one’s fault.

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Who Do You Call When You Hit a Deer?

To report a deer accident:

  1. Call your local law enforcement.
  2. If there are no serious injuries, call the non-emergency number.
  3. If there are injuries, call 911.

Do You Need a Police Report for Hitting a Deer?

Yes, you always need a police report (crash report) for hitting a deer. Depending on the circumstances, the police may respond and create the report, or the driver must complete the report within ten days of the crash. All personal injury or property damage accidents require a crash report, including deer accidents.

Lawyers for Car Accidents Involving Deer

Car and deer accidents can produce serious injuries. They may involve multiple vehicles. If you believe you have a legal claim or have questions about your situation, contact our law offices for more information.


¹State Farm. How likely are you to have an animal collision? Retrieved 5 May 2022.

²FLA. STAT. § 316.066

³FLA. STAT. § 316.065

FLA. STAT. § 316.0895