A MOTORIST is calling for an urgent change in the law after a rampaging cow trashed his car.
Steve Williams was gobsmacked when he found his Volkswagen Golf R32 had been badly damaged by a roaming cow outside his cottage in Box on Minchinhampton Common, where cattle graze freely during the summer.
Mr Williams, 57, who has lived in the village for 12 months, believes the vehicle is a write-off and is extremely concerned as he has discovered there are no avenues to claim compensation from the owner of the animal.
The bonnet, wing, front grill, driver’s door, suspension and other parts have been damaged – leaving a repair bill of nearly £5,000 – and there is more to be assessed including the steering.
Mr Williams was woken by a loud sound during the night last Wednesday, May 25, which must have been the animal jumping on the bonnet.
“I heard a loud bang but went back to sleep,” said Mr Williams, who works in the oil and gas industry.
“The following morning I came down and realised that a roaming cow had damaged my car.
“When I went to drive it, it was shaky and juddered.
“I have been to the garage and have a long list of repairs and more damage may be discovered once a full investigation is completed.”
Mr Williams believes the vehicle, which he bought in January, will be written-off by his insurance company as the cost of repairs is likely to be higher than the amount the vehicle is worth.
He has decided not to make a claim due to the effect it would have on his future insurance and began looking into how to get compensation from the owner of the animal via the Minchinhampton and Rodborough Commons Advisory Committee.
However, the committee informed him that this was not possible, quoting legalisation from the 1970s and adding that motorists park in the area at their own risk.
The Animals Act 1971 sets out liability for damage caused by animals in England and Wales.
It states that owners are not liable for damage caused by livestock on common land such as the area around Minchinhampton.
Mr Williams, who grew up in Tetbury and has lived in the Stroud area for many years, wants to raise awareness.
“People should be made aware of this,” he said.
“My insurance company has told me that the car might be a write-off.
“After the incident I spent all day trying to find out how I could get compensation as I do not want to make an insurance claim.
“I have now found out that I cannot get any and I am in absolute shock.
“If I had parked in the middle of the common then I would understand but my vehicle was outside my cottage.
“I want to spread the message because most people here aren’t aware that they can’t make claims if a cow causes damage.
“The act really needs updating for the modern era.”
Minchinhampton hayward Mark Hawkins – who is responsible for managing the cattle – sympathises with Mr Williams but says there is little that can be done.
“The cattle are legally depastured on the commons,” he said.
“Under these circumstances you cannot claim against the owner.
“The boundaries of the commons have been there for hundreds of years.
“I understand where the driver is coming from and it has happened to me before when I had an incident with my wing mirror but frankly it’s tough luck.
“The animals have a right to be there and that’s just the way it is.”
Minchinhampton Parish Council said it has reminded residents of the legal situation surrounding damage caused by cattle.