CASE LAW - Collision Involving a Deer

BC Courts Coat of ArmsThe case of Dehal v Dhaliwal involves a single vehicle crash where the driver, Gurmel Singh Dhaliwal swerved to avoid a collision with a deer. Mr. Justice Verhoven was asked to determine whether Mr. Dhaliwal or the deer was at fault for the crash.

Circumstances of the Crash

Mr. Dhaliwal was driving his Acura EL southbound on Bailey Road travelling from Vernon to Kelowna in order to do some shopping. His wife Amar Kaur Dhaliwal was seated behind him and her brother Gurdeep Singh Dehal was beside him.

The roads were wet and traffic was light.

A deer appeared suddenly on the highway close to the left front of the vehicle. Mr. Dhaliwal steered sharply to the right in order of miss the deer but he lost control of his car. They left the road to the right and slid along the ditch for about 60m before coming to a stop.


Ms. Dhaliwal and Mr. Dehal allege that the crash was Mr. Dhaliwal's fault because he was driving too fast for the road conditions, was not paying sufficient attention, and failed to see the deer when he should have. He could have avoided the accident by taking reasonable care, in the circumstances.

Wildlife Collision Case Law

Whether a driver is negligent when he runs into wildlife on the road depends on all of the circumstances of the particular case (Fajardo v. Horianopoulos, at paragraph 24).

Driver's Duty

In addition to a duty of care to the passengers in the vehicle, the driver must be on the lookout for the unexpected. The standard of care required is that of a reasonably prudent motorist in light of all the circumstances. 

Motorists are not required to anticipate all foreseeable road hazards, only those that are reasonably foreseeable.


Based on the testimony of the passengers and a collision reconstruction engineer that they had hired, Mr. Justice Verhoven found that Mr. Dhaliwal failed to meet the standard of care:

  1. Had he been paying careful attention, as he should have, he ought to have been able to see the deer in time to avoid a collision, by simply braking the vehicle, rather than veering sharply to the right, and losing control of it; and
  2. He was driving at a speed that was too fast for the conditions, including the known hazard of wildlife, such as deer.

Damages for the crash will be decided in a separate trial.

The Deer

It appears that the deer escaped unscathed.

image of a deer in the headlights

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