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Keep Your Mules Stabled After Dark!

If you don’t keep your mules stabled after dark (or otherwise confined), they might escape and cause a wreck. If that happens, you will likely be found liable for the wreck and you and/or your insurance company might be paying for a personal injury settlement. In a case settled last month on Virginia’s rural Eastern Shore, this is exactly what happened. You might not own a mule, but your pet could also cause a wreck.

Mules - US Army Corps of Engineers

Photo from Flickr, with thanks to the US Army Corps of Engineers

The Story

A 64-year-old man was driving home from a friend’s house around midnight on a two-lane highway. According to witnesses, the road was very dark and the posted speed limit was 55 mph. The driver collided with a mule that had escaped from a farm by the highway and wandered into the road. Neither the owner of the ranch nor the owner of the mule was aware of the mule’s escape. Horses confined inside the fence did not escape.

The driver sustained severe injuries, including complete quadriplegia. After several months of treatment in the hospital, he was placed in a nursing home. After 18 months, he died due to the injuries he sustained in the collision.

The case involved dispute over the adequacy of the electric fence, the construction of the fence, and the responsibilities of the mule owner’s insurance and the ranch owner’s insurance. The case was settled for $505,000 for the driver of the vehicle (plaintiff).

The Takeaway

If you are reading this post and thinking you don’t need to keep your mules stabled after dark because you don’t have any mules, please do not conclude that this post is irrelevant. This case involved an escaped mule on a dark highway. You might be surprised to learn that there are collisions every month involving cars or trucks and escaped animals. Many of these collisions occur at night.

Whether you live in an urban area and keep dogs, cats, pigs or other small pets or you live in a rural area and you keep cattle, horses, or other large animals, please understand that it is incumbent upon you to corral your pets and livestock so they do not wander into traffic and cause a wreck. Virginia has a fence code (Code of Virginia § 55-299). If you fail to take adequate steps to contain your animals, you might be held liable if they cause a crash in which someone is injured. Besides, you don’t want to risk the animal being harmed or killed either.

If you have been injured in a wreck caused by an escaped animal, call Altizer Law, P.C. We have handled this kind of case. We are here to help you obtain fair compensation for your hurts and harms.