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Stuart J
Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 23353
Experience:  Senior Partner at Berkson Wallace
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My neighbour lives in a bungalow very close to category C

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My neighbour lives in a bungalow very close to category C road, single lane with passing places. He keeps four brilliant white Gunea fowl, which often run suddenly out of the hedge into the path of oncoming traffic. The police have told me that these are not notifiable animals like cows, sheep or dogs, therefore my neighbour is free to allow his birds to roam on the highway, but if they get run over, he cannot claim any compensation. My question is a hypothetical one, viz., a motorist with no knowledge of the particular circumstances is driving down the lane in icy weather, and the fowl suddenly rush out on front of the car. The driver is only driving slowly, but instinctively brakes and swerves to avoid the birds. His car skids on ice into a tree and is a write-off. Who is responsible in law for the damage to the car ? Thank you very much for any advice.
JA: Where is this? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: Radnorshire, Powys.
JA: What steps have been taken so far?
Customer: It is a hypothetical question. I want my neighbour to be aware of the possible consequences (if any) if his fowl are the immediate cause of an road accident. (by the way, I live in a very rural area, and my next-door neighbour is half a mile away). When I suggested to him that his birds were a potential hazard, he told me he didn't bloody care.
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: Thanks. I think that sums up my problem. I've had several complaints from visitors who instinctively braked hard when the birds ran out.

The general rule is that if you swerved to miss an animal and cause an injury or damage, then its your fault. If you hit the animal and the animal is killed, then it’s the fault of the owner for not keeping the animal under control.

Some years ago I swerved to avoid another motorist and hit a tree. The motorist carried on regardless and I ended up paying for my own damage.

If you are concerned about your own safety rather than that of a 3rd party I would suggest that you wrote to the owner of these putting him on notice that if you swerved to avoid one of his animals, and your vehicle is damaged, you will hold him personally liable (debatable whether the court would agree) and that notwithstanding any spontaneous reaction, you will not be swerving and if the animal is killed or injured, then you will not be liable.

It doesn’t matter what the animal is, apart from the damage involved, you are normally better hitting it than avoiding it. As a nation of animal lovers, I appreciate that may go against the grain a little.

If I have answered your question for you, at the top of the page, you should see a rating facility. Can you please rate my reply 3 stars or more because that really helps me? Please note you are not rating whether it’s favourable, because sometimes you may not get the answer you want, but basically my knowledge and way of dealing.

The thread does not close and I am happy to answer any questions you may have arising from this.

Kind regards

Stuart J and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Thanks very much for the advice. I will ask the neighbour to confirm in writing that if I or any of my friends take avoiding action, he undertakes to be responsible for any consequent damage, and that otherwise I will advise my friends not to take avoiding action, and will do the same.

Good plan. It may not necessarily work if it got to court but he doesn’t know that. Hopefully, he will keep his chickens tied up in future