Your pets feel like family, but in the eyes of the law, they are actually your property. When your property is damaged, you can sue to recover costs — but in the case of a dog hit by a vehicle, a lawsuit is problematic. To be hit by a car in the first place, your dog needs to be somewhere he does not belong — in the road or a parking lot. If your dog is off leash in one of these areas and is hit, you could be found to be partially liable for the accident and would lose a case. There are a few exceptions, detailed below:
- The accident occurred while your pet was in a designated pet zone. A car that knocks over your fence and hits your dog is a totally different story from a loose dog that tragically runs in front of a car. A car driving on a walkway, sidewalk or even in the dog park is putting pets and pedestrians at risk and could be held liable for the harm they do.
- Harm was intentionally done: If the person who injured your dog deliberately set out to do so, whether behind the wheel of a car or not, then they would run afoul of animal cruelty laws. Since your pet is your property, they could also be liable for damages. Laws designed to protect animals against cruelty do not come into play if your dog was attacking people or livestock; only when the aggressor set out to deliberately harm your pet.
Courts are slowly beginning to recognize that companion animals like dogs are often considered valuable members of a family; in some cases the only remedy received would be the cost of the animal, not veterinary care or compensation for
Whatever you do, please talk to an attorney before you talk to an insurance company about your car accident. The insurance company’s job is to pay you the least amount of money, we want to make sure you are taken care of during your time of need.
Anyone in southern Florida who has a personal injury legal issue pending should contact Smith & Vanture, LLP for a full free injury claim evaluation. Always retain an attorney who can get you what you deserve for your injury.
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