I was injured in a car crash avoiding a stray cow on the road
Eoin P. Campbell
Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor
Editor in Chief

Question: I was injured in a car crash avoiding a stray cow on the road. Can I sue the owner of the cow for allowing it to stray onto the road?

Answer: Animal owners have a clear legal duty to keep their animals off the road and to ensure that they do not cause road traffic accidents. However, you do need to remember the owner of the animal must be able to afford to pay compensation/damages or better still, have insurance. In the case of a cow straying on the road, the farmer almost certainly has a farm insurance policy that will cover such circumstances.

You did not say if you or the Gardai had identified the owner of the cow. One factor that the Gardai may investigate is the reason the cow was on the road. There may have been vandalism or malicious intent in releasing the cow on the road. In some circumstances, this may complicate the question of liability.

You did not specify the exact circumstances of the accident, particularly the involvement of other cars. While you may think that the primary reason for the accident was a stray cow on the road, the owners of other cars may not agree. Like any complicated road traffic accident involving multiple cars and third parties, the Garda report will be the key evidence.

Finally, you did not specify your injuries. You must have sustained actual physical injuries in order to obtain injury compensation.