Fabian Manning, the former senator returning to the upper house after an election defeat, is in stable condition at a hospital in St. John's after his vehicle hit a moose Thursday night.

Manning was alone in the car when he struck a moose at about 8 p.m. just west of St. John's, about 100 kilometres from his home in the rural Newfoundland community of St. Brides.

As soon as Fabian's niece Janice Manning got the phone call, she rushed to the hospital.

"In the beginning information is quite limited, so until we heard that Fabian was doing well obviously things were quite alarmed," she said.

On Friday afternoon, a family member told CBC News that Manning is bruised and cut and suffers headaches. Neurosurgeons at the Health Sciences Centre in St. John's have told the family that an internal brain bleed is less serious than originally thought — more like a scratch, they said.

Results from a CT scan and X-ray were expected later Friday.

Police have confirmed that alcohol was not a factor in the crash. At the scene of the collision, RCMP Sgt. Mike Ouellette said Manning was unable to avoid the large moose.

"When he came down this dip, the moose walked out from this area here and he struck the moose, it hit the vehicle, it rolled on the vehicle, then it rolled off the vehicle," said Ouellette. "There is a big population of moose in this area, as you can see it's a wilderness area; there's not much space between the road and when you come to the bushes and the trees and bogs."

Moose are frequently seen in the area of the crash.

"My dad Eugene, his brother, and his wife, Sandra, were en route from St. Brides to the hospital. Sandra is Fabian's wife.… and they even saw three moose on route here," said Janice Manning.

The returning senator is expected to make a full recovery. However, his May 21 birthday will likely be spent in hospital.

Challenging week for Manning

Earlier on Thursday, Manning, 46, defended the Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision to send him to the upper house a second time after he lost his run for a Commons seat on May 2.

But Manning told CBC News the prime minister's decision took him by surprise.

"You know, we had an election a few weeks ago," he said in an interview at his home. "I felt that there may be some opportunity with a majority government to serve in some capacity, but I was absolutely delighted when the prime minister called and invited me back to the Senate."

Manning was among three failed candidates named to the Senate on Wednesday. He and Larry Smith both resigned to run for election at the end of March, and both lost. Josée Verner is also getting a Senate seat.

Manning, whose birthday is Saturday, ran to represent the riding of Avalon, a federal seat he represented from 2006 to 2008.