Most personal injury cases deal with damage done to human life and property. If someone’s negligence caused you injury, that person can be held accountable for medical and insurance bills, and compensation for pain and suffering. If their recklessness also caused damage to or loss of property, they must pay for repairs or replacements, and compensate the victim for the inconvenience. But what about damage to your pets?
Let’s say you’re in an auto accident — a car ran a red light and T-boned you in an intersection. Not only are you injured and your vehicle damaged, but your pet is also injured in the accident. Is the person responsible for the accident also required to pay for the care of the injured animal?
The short answer is yes. Pets are legally considered property, which means they may certainly be included as damages. Whether intentional or due to recklessness or negligence, if someone caused the injury or death of another person’s pet, he or she can be held liable.
However the caveat is, pets are viewed as property and their value in a lawsuit is determined as property. For example, if the pet passed away, damages would include the initial cost of the pet, as well as the expenses associated with caring for the pet throughout its life. If the pet was merely injured, the actual costs of the injuries (ie. medical bills associated with the injury) would be used to determine the damages. This is the same as a damaged car: the cost of repairs or replacement is the main factor in deciding compensation. What is not taken into account when a car is damaged is your emotional attachment to the car. Because an animal is legally treated the same as other property, your emotional investment in the pet is also generally not a factor in liability cases. In some cases, one can sometimes sue for “negligent infliction of emotional distress” relating to the loss or injury of a pet but this would require gross negligence, meaning the act has to demonstrate total disregard for safety and apathy of the consequences.
At Bellah Perez, PLLC, we take all factors into account when it comes to compensation. You deserve to receive damages for what you’ve lost, and your beloved furry friends are no exception. Contact us at 602-252-9937. We’ll do our best to get justice, for you and your four-legged companions.
Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.