Can I Get Compensation for the Injury or Death of My Pet?

sick dog in the couch

sick dog in the couchIn the event that your beloved pet gets killed or injured because of another individual’s negligent actions, you can file a claim to get compensation for your losses. To start, request that your veterinarian document all the treatments and findings related to your pet. Likewise, obtain copies of everything so that you can crunch the numbers. With help from your attorney, determine how much compensation is fair under the circumstances.

Who Can I Hold Liable for My Pet’s Injury or Death?

You can hold any individual who deliberately acts to hurt or kill your precious pet responsible for the accident. For instance, a driver who ran a stop sign and then ran over your dog while you were crossing the street with him. However, this won’t apply to cases in which the individual did what he did to protect himself because your pet was attacking him. The same goes for a farmer who shot your pet to prevent it from attacking his livestock.

What If You’re Partly to Blame for the Accident?

If the accident is partly your fault, then the amount you can potentially recover will depend on the state where you reside. For example, some states follow the legal principle of contributory negligence, which states that if your negligence contributed to your pet’s accident in any way, you won’t be able to recover anything. Other states, on the other hand, follow the comparative negligence rule: how much you can recover will depend on the level or degree of negligence the court might assign to you.

The majority of states, however, like Montana and Utah, follow the modified comparative negligence rule, which states that you can’t recover anything if the court finds that you were more liable for the incident than the defendant. This means that your personal injury attorney will have to try and reduce the percentage of negligence that can be attributed to you.

How Much Is My Claim Worth?

injured catFor most pet owners, it’s not really about the money because no amount can really ever compensate for the injuries or death of a pet. However, generally speaking, common damages include:

  • The pet’s market value or cost to replace it. In cases where the pet dies, this is typically the most common type of damage.
  • Compensation for veterinary treatment. The court will evaluate the pet’s health history and treatment record prior to and after the accident, as well as the specific injury to determine what’s reasonable.
  • The pet’s value to you, which can be determined by various factors such as the length and quality of your relationship and the kind of animal, among others.
  • Emotional distress.
  • Punitive damages in the event that the defendant acted maliciously to kill or maim your pet.

Although you can obtain compensation for the death or injuries of your pet, laws differ from one state to another and might also differ from one county to another. Additionally, the majority of states don’t really have specific statutes pertaining to how much a pet owner can recover. With that said, get an experienced attorney to assess your claim and go from there.