Can I Seek Compensation for Injuries My Pet Suffered in a Crash?
Can I Seek Compensation for Injuries My Pet Suffered in a Crash?
Posted on behalf of Arnold Law Firm
on June 25, 2021 in Auto Accident Updated on February 24, 2022
From trips to the beach, the dog park or national parks, people love to travel with their furry friends. Unfortunately, the more time spent with a pet in the car the greater the chances of them getting injured if you are involved in an accident.
Our Sacramento car accident lawyers discuss what your legal options may be if your pet is injured or killed due to the negligence of another driver on California roads. Just like your own injuries, you may be eligible for compensation for vet bills and other damages.
COMPENSATION FOR VET BILLS
If your pet is injured in a car accident, you will likely have bills from the veterinary clinic or animal hospital. You may be able to include these expenses in a third-party liability claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance. Remember to keep any receipts or bills you receive from the pet clinic where your pet is treated after the accident.
Generally, insurance companies will only cover the treatment they consider reasonable. They are likely to apply this standard to a claim for injuries to your pet. There are many factors to account for when determining what is reasonable, such as the pet’s age and condition.
However, the insurance company may claim it is only responsible for the fair market value of your pet. For example, if you paid $200 for the pet, the insurance company may say it is only required to provide up to $200 to cover vet bills.
It is also important to note that insurance policies typically have exclusions for exotic animals and usually only cover vet bills for dogs and cats. Additionally, the insurance policy will most likely not cover your pet’s preexisting conditions.
Compensation for injuries to your pet is an issue you should review with a licensed attorney who has experience analyzing insurance policies to determine the limits of coverage.
WHAT IF MY PET DIES?
Although our pets may feel like family, they are still considered property under the law, so the insurance company will likely pay for it as they would any other personal property. There are several ways the value of a pet may be measured:
FAIR MARKET VALUE
The value of your deceased pet is measured by what the animal would be worth if it were to be sold, just like any other personal property.
Purebred animals usually have a higher fair market value than pets adopted from animal shelters. If your pet was purchased from a breeder, you may be able to recover what you paid for him or her if you can show proof. Usually, younger purebred dogs are worth more than older ones.
If your pet was a service animal or had special training or certifications, the insurance company may have to pay for the cost of replacing your pet.
SPECIAL ECONOMIC VALUE
Sometimes, a pet’s value may be linked to a person’s income, such as if the pet is a show dog. In these cases, compensation for a deceased pet may include lost potential revenue for the owner.
CAN I RECOVER NON-ECONOMIC DAMAGES AFTER THE LOSS OF MY PET?
When a pet dies, especially in an accident that could have been avoided, a person may feel emotional distress. Recovering compensation for the emotional distress you feel after losing a beloved family pet may be difficult, but it may be possible.
This is something to discuss with an experienced attorney in a free consultation.
WHAT IF THE INSURANCE COMPANY BLAMES ME?
The insurance company is likely to look for any reason to deny or devalue your claim. If your pet gets injured in a crash, they will likely try to point the finger at you. For example, they may claim you did not properly restrain your pet while traveling.
Although there are devices that should be used when traveling in a vehicle with a pet, there is no law in California that prohibits drivers from having their pet loose in a vehicle.
If the insurance company still tries to argue that you were partially at fault, California’s comparative negligence laws may still allow you to recover compensation.
TIPS FOR KEEPING YOUR PETS SAFE WHILE IN THE CAR
Just as vehicles have safety features to help prevent or reduce injuries to people, there is also equipment that you may be able to use to help keep your furry friends safer. Just like child car seats, there are crates that may be strapped in by a car’s seatbelt to help keep your pet safe during a car ride.
You should also try to avoid driving with a pet in your lap since it could be dangerous for you, your pet and others on the roadway.
If your pet is injured in an accident, having pet insurance could also be beneficial, as most pet insurance policies help cover emergencies.
LET US HELP. CALL TODAY
Expenses can quickly pile up after a car accident, including the costs associated with treating your pet’s injuries. Recovering the compensation that you need can be difficult because insurance companies often deny claims or make lowball offers.
That is why having an experienced attorney on your side may be beneficial to you. Our attorneys have decades of combined experience helping injury victims recover the compensation they need for medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages.
We do not charge you anything up front and only get paid if you do. Discuss your claim with a licensed attorney during a free consultation to see how we may be able to help you recover compensation.
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