You're driving along through Illinois, the cruise control on, going 55 MPH. Suddenly, a deer runs out of the trees and into your lane. You have to decide, in almost no time at all, if you're going to hit it or try to swerve around it.

A lot of people swerve on instinct alone. However, experts typically say that is never a good idea. You should hit the brakes hard, slam on the horn to scare the deer off, and brace for impact. But they say you should stay in your lane, traveling in a straight line.

The general theory here is that an impact with an animal may damage your car, but you're far more likely to be hurt if you hit almost anything else. If you swerve to the right, leave the road, and hit a tree, the odds of injury are far higher. If you swerve left, into oncoming traffic, and get hit by an SUV, your own injury risk goes up and you put everyone in the SUV in danger.

This especially true when you see smaller wildlife in the road. Instinctively darting around a rabbit or even a pet dog to project it or avoid even very mild damage to your car could put you at risk of being involved in a deadly accident. The only animal experts advise swerving for is a moose, due to its size, but even that is unwise if you're going into oncoming traffic.

Perhaps this isn't news to you, but another driver tried to avoid an animal, swerved into your lane, and hit you head on. As you deal with medical bills and lost wages, be sure you know if you have a right to compensation.

Source: DMV, "Wildlife on the Road," accessed May 19, 2017