Woman hits wandering cow; Virginia law says she responsible for damage, cow costs

(NBC12)
Updated: Oct. 1, 2018 at 10:42 PM EDT
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DINWIDDIE, VA (WWBT) - A Dinwiddie County woman has a huge beef after she says she was blamed for hitting a heifer. The cow was in the middle of road in the early hours of the morning and she says the cow’s owner should be responsible for the damage to her car. But it does not appear the law is on her side.

"The more I think about it the worse it makes me feel,” said Audrey Wallace.

Back in April, she was driving with her mom in the car along Boyndon Plank Road around 3 a.m., when things took a dangerous turn.

“And all of the sudden something said ‘woobumb’ into the car and I didn’t know what was going on, and she didn’t know what was going on,” Wallace said. “Finally the cow lifted his head up and there was a white spot in front, and we thought it was a bear at first and then realized it was a cow. It was hard because it felt like somebody just took their fist and went right up through me. That’s why I went to the emergency room.”

The damage costed $3,000. She paid the $250 to her insurance company and it covered the cost of the repair. She thought her insurance company would recoup the cost from the cow owner’s insurance and she’d be reimbursed. But that didn’t happen. In fact, not only did her insurance pay for her car repair, but also more than $900 for the cow that had to be put down.

“How could it be my fault?” Wallace said. “You’re in the road - in the lines where you’re supposed to be - when all the sudden something bammed up into you.”

In Virginia, there is no law that says livestock farmers must have a fence. So, if an animal gets loose and winds up in the roadway, the law says that farmer is not liable.

"And that is what it's saying that's correct,” confirmed Officer Alvin Langley with Dinwiddie Animal Control.

Langley says most farmers have a fence as the one in this case does.

"Nobody is just letting their animals roam free,” Langley said.

It’s unclear how the heifer made it past the fence, but Wallace said it’s clear the system shouldn’t be milking her or her insurance company for money.

"I think that his insurance should pay for fixing my car or reimburse and get that off of my record saying I was at fault for hitting the cow,” Wallace said. “If he wasn’t in the road, I couldn’t have hit him.”

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