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Honey, I Hit the Herd

By Jason Bottlinger on October 15, 2017

On a chilly January evening in 1985, the Bennett family traveled to a small town in Southwest Nebraska to attend the funeral of the family matriarch. Jim, the father, drove his large, beloved 1983 Lincoln Mark VI with the radio playing quietly. His son, Billy, and Billy’s pregnant wife, Tammy, sat in the bench seat next to him; in the backseat were Jim’s wife, Paula, daughter Wendy, and 8-year-old David.

It was around 10:00 p.m. on that quiet country highway, and a wave of drowsiness was affecting everyone after three hours of smooth, cozy, 60-mph travel in the peaceful night.

“Dad! Look out!” screamed Billy.

Young David in the back jolted awake to see the head of a 1,000-lb Angus cow rushing toward the windshield. Jim pulled hard on the steering wheel as the front end of the car rammed into the first cow. He then clipped a second cow and drove off into a ditch on the side of the road.

The family burst from the car. Thankfully, no one was hurt, as the Lincoln took the worst of the collision—its massive front end now rumpled up like an accordion. They looked around to see the first cow had flown over the car and landed about 20 feet behind. The second cow limped away howling and eventually collapsed. A third cow that no one had seen managed to get away unscathed.

A man from a nearby house came out to see what the ruckus was all about. He recognized the markings on the cattle as belonging to a rancher just down the road. The man said he would take care of the wounded cows, but that it would be best done after the family left. They exchanged information and then Jim’s brother, Mike, came along shortly and took the family to the nearest hospital for evaluation.

Though the above story was just a creative example, many folks in the Plains states are familiar with accidents similar to this.

In Nebraska, cattle outnumber people four to one. Broken fence, open gates and other hazards can lead animals to wonder out onto the highways. This is very dangerous. Determining liability in a case like this can be very complex. Should you or someone you love find yourself needing legal assistance after an accident with livestock, contact Bottlinger Law, L.L.C., at (402) 505-8234 for a free consultation.

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