Posted in Uncategorized on December 7, 2012
A rollover car accident claimed the life of a Muskogee woman and injured five others around 5 p.m. on Wednesday. Tiffany Borovitz was killed when the 1995 suburban she was operating left the roadway and rolled over six times on the Muskogee Turnpike. Clara and Quentin Chaplin, Dylan and Jordan Borovetz, and Christopher Crutchfield were also injured in the accident and transported to Tulsa hospitals.
It is unknown what caused the suburban to leave the highway, but these types of accidents are commonly seen when a driver is distracted, or when she attempts to avoid something in the roadway, like debris or a loose animal. Under Oklahoma law, owners domestic animals, including horses and cows, can be liable when those animals escape and cause accidents with drivers.
In Kelley v. Barnett, 897 P.2d 289 (1995), a driver sustained injury when a horse escaped from land owned by a rancher. The horse emerged from a drainage ditch and ran onto the road causing the car accident. After some investigation, the driver discovered that the animals on the rancher’s property had a history of escaping, and further investigation identified problems with the property’s fence.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court confirmed that when domestic animals are running at large as a result of the owner’s negligence, the owner can be held liable for any resulting accident or injuries. The court held that evidence of the owner’s negligence could include a poorly maintained fence, or a history of prior escapes.
Car accidents that result from animals running at large can implicate insurance polices that apply to the property where the animals were kept. For this reason, when a car accident results from an animal-collision, it is important to document the details regarding ownership of the animal, and because the property owner may promptly repair a poorly maintained fence, obtaining photographs showing the poorly maintained area could be critical to establishing liability.