Italy has many rural areas where wild animals are allowed to roam, both in the wooded areas and even into the villages. When driving through such regions there is always the possibility of the sudden and unexpected arrival of an animal running across the road in the path of a car giving the driver little or no time to stop. The risk is well known to the inhabitants but less expected by tourists, despite the signs pointing out that wild animals are likely to be present.

Sardinia, in particular, has large numbers of wild animals free to roam in certain areas; deer and boar are the most prolific. Increasingly there are road accidents due to the sudden arrival of a creature in the road. Sardinia experienced over 100 road accidents due predominately to wild boar. If you have had the misfortune to be involved in an accident due to a wild animal such, as a boar or deer, appearing unexpectedly on the road resulting in the accident. Often tourists experience an accident whilst holidaying in Sardinia but are unaware that there is the opportunity to claim damages from the Region; you can claim up to two years after the accident occurred.

Following an accident there are certain priorities that must be observed, the incident must be reported to the police; there is no opportunity for simply driving on to your destination. In the event of a serious accident, art. 189 / 9bis of the Highway Code requires, where there are injuries that injuries to passengers or the driver take precedence; if the animal has been injured there is a duty to take steps to care for the injured animal. If the animal proves to be a domesticated animal, the owner is liable for damages under art. 2052 Civil Code; however, if the creature is a wild animal, unless the driver has not respected the common rules of prudence (Cass. Civ. No. 11785/2017), the State or region is responsible for any damages and a claim can be made.

There is a degree of complexity regarding responsibility between the State and the region and it is essential to seek the assistance of an expert lawyer with expertise and specialist legal knowledge in this area to assist you with a claim for damages. The lawyers in Giambrone's Sassari office in Sardinia have extensive experience in such matters. They will be able to guide you and advise on the correct procedure and where to direct your claim, as there are many laws addressing where the liability lies and who should pay the damages in such cases. It is not unknown for differing Authorities to engage in a legal argument as to who has responsibility for controlling the wild animals in the region. There is a duty owed to road users by the owners of a road to a) guarantee the safety of the roads in areas frequented by wild animals and b) set up appropriate signs in all areas where animals it can be reasonably judged that animals are likely to attempt to cross the road as a warning to traffic and the owners must also to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the fences built to contain the animals are sound with no damage or breaches that would afford access to the road for wild animals.

Considerations such as who owns the road, the adequacy of the sign posting, and whether the obligatory the installation of nets, ditches and guard rails at the edges of roads, which the authority owning the roads must undertake meets the recommended requirements, are frequently amongst the aspects that come under the spotlight in such matters; without the guidance of a lawyer with a thorough understanding and knowledge of these factors a claim for damages may very easily stall or be lost in the conflict between Authorities.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.