Road accidents can be very stressful, to say the least. While the chances of getting into an accident is generally pretty slim, knowing what to do should a mishap on the road occur can save you from unnecessary hardship. Those looking for information on how to deal with accidents will find many resources on the topic online, such as our new infographic, titled: What to do in the event of a car accident. But what if a traffic accident were to involve injured animals?
What does HK's traffic law have to say about accidents involving injured animals?
As a driver in Hong Kong, you're most probably familiar with the most common traffic offences and road laws. Most people, however, are likely not as familiar with the laws governing animals injured in traffic accidents. This is not surprising, especially when considering that animal protection laws in Hong Kong can be quite nebulous.
As it pertains to car accidents, the Road Traffic Ordinance (section 56) says that drivers must stop and inform the police if an animal has been harmed in a traffic accident. However, this law has not been updated since 1972. The penalty of not doing so is a fine of HKD 10,000 and a 12-month jail term.
The definition of animals in the Road Traffic Ordinance currently includes:
More recently, however, changes to HK traffic law governing injured animals have been anticipated in light of recent news reporting that reviews to cover cats and dogs under the definition of animals in the Road Traffic Ordinance is under way. According to an SCMP article, Sophia Chan, Secretary for Food and Health, further stated that the government will be reviewing this matter with reference to overseas practices.
So you've hit an animal by accident while driving - What should you do?
Hopefully you'll never experience hitting an animal, but should this situation occur, reading our advice might be useful. It may be easier said than done, but if something unfortunate does happen, remember to stay calm, take deep breaths, and take stock of the situation.
Stop your vehicle
If you have injured or killed an animal in a traffic accident when you're driving in a car or any other vehicle (whether the animal is in another car or on the road), the first thing you should do is stop, or remain stationary. If no animal has been seriously injured or killed, you should move your motor vehicle to an adjacent safe place. If an animal has been injured or killed, you should not move or interfere with your vehicle without a police officer's permission, unless there are special circumstances (e.g. to save a life).
Call the police (and the SPCA or pet owner, if possible)
Remember if you hit any of the animals listed in the Road Traffic Ordinance, you are legally required to contact the police. Another point worth noting here is that the injured animal could have an owner. If they're wearing a tag, you should try to trace its owner or call the SPCA to let them know what had happened. Before approaching an injured animal, however, do be careful as the animal will likely be in shock and could scratch/bite you.
What if my pet has been injured in a car accident?
Typically speaking, regardless of whether you have third party or comprehensive motor insurance, most insurance companies in Hong Kong will not cover dogs and other pets. This is because the insurers simply do not count pets as persons or property in the event of an accident. However, this is not to say that you absolutely can't receive compensation should your pet become injured in a motor accident. For example, reparations can be sought through legal small claims avenues, or pet insurance coverage.
Do you have any further questions? As Hong Kong's leading expert on all things insurance related, Kwiksure's team is standing by to offer you the best type of insurance for your needs and budget. Get in touch with us for a free quote and impartial advice today!