Maryland drivers encounter a lot of hazards out there on our highways and roads — drunk drivers, distracted drivers texting and chatting on cell phones, road construction and detours, traffic congestion, bad weather — the list goes on.
One Maryland driving obstacle we hear less about that causes serious car accidents is the problem of livestock and other animals in the roadways. This includes farming livestock such as cattle, sheep, and bison; game animals such as elk and deer that are raised on private property for hunting; and even large exotic animals that are kept legally or illegally by private individuals as “pets.”
Let’s consider the problem of Maryland auto accidents involving livestock.
A recent article in The New York Times shed light on the problem of car accidents and livestock animals in Arizona (see link below). That state is rethinking its open range laws as suburban sprawl extends into what was once pasture land where farm animals roamed freely. Now motorists are coming into contact with cows and bulls on their property and in the roads and streets — sometimes with tragic results. “People have been killed in collisions with large cows,” said AZ state rep Daniel Patterson, who wants to do away with the “antiquated” open range law.
Maryland has no such open range laws in rural areas that allow livestock to roam freely into the roads. Generally speaking, animal owners are held to the same standards of negligence as any citizen and must use reasonable care in handling their animals. In certain cases, strict liability also applies in Maryland.
If you are involved in a car accident with livestock in Maryland, it’s best to consult an experienced Maryland livestock and car accident lawyer — who knows the laws related to animal and property owner liability and negligence.
Arizona Rethinking Open Range Laws
The New York Times Oct. 12, 2010