We all love our furry friends. As a matter of fact, 67% of Americans take their pets to their vet more often than they see the physician themselves! It is also estimated that 70%-93% of pet owners consider their pets to be members of their family.
The owner of an injured pet is usually legible for compensation for at least the cost of the veterinary services, against the person who is at fault for the injury. Some courts have decided that the pet owner is usually permitted to recover no more than the dog’s market value.
In extreme cases where a dog is killed, for example, the owner receives the market value of the dog prior to death, or the amount it would take to replace the dog, depending on the particular circumstances and the law of the jurisdiction where the incident happened. The market value might be higher than the replacement value because the dog might have won awards or otherwise been a great value to the owner. Even if the dog was relatively old and valueless from an economic standpoint, the replacement cost may be higher than the original cost, due to mental anguish and sentimental damages.
What Can Be Covered?
Depending on the circumstances and state law, a dog owner may be able to convince a court to order the person responsible to pay for:
- Costs of treatment if the dog is injured
- Market or replacement value of the dog
- Sentimental value of the dog
- Emotional distress
- Additional money damages to punish the person responsible.
- Cost of Treatment
When a dog is injured, the person responsible for the injury can be found legally liable for the veterinarian’s bills.
Usually, courts allow the owner to be reimbursed for “reasonable” treatment. A dog owner probably can’t expect to recover $10,000 for extensive surgery of a 16-year-old dog if the vet proclaims the dog is likely to die soon. However, just because a dog is older doesn’t mean that expensive treatment is never justified. In 1988, a New York court approved an award of $300 for antibiotics and operation of an aged, arthritic, and partially deaf dog that had been injured by another dog.
If your dog is injured, keep records of all bills for treatment, medication, and hospitalization. However, you most likely will not be paid back for the time you took off from work to care for the dog or take it to the vet.
Market or Replacement Value
All dogs have a market value (the price for which they would be sold). Even if that is not much, the dog’s owner is entitled to compensation if a dog has been killed. Some courts award the dog owner the amount it would cost to replace the dog, instead of the dog’s market value. This replacement value is likely to be a larger amount.
Factors to be considered in computing market value include the dog’s:
- Purchase price
- Special traits or characteristics of value
An owner’s affection for and attachment to a dog is usually greater than the dog’s market value. Rhode Island, for example, allows evidence not only of the market value of an animal but also its “actual value to the owner.” Tennessee allows someone whose pet is killed by the negligence of another to recover up to $5,000 in damages as compensation for the loss of the pet’s “society, companionship, love and affection.” Victims can usually sue for two types of mental distress. The first is the shock and distress caused by seeing an accident or mistreatment, and second is the grief and long-term effect the loss has on their lives. Proving mental suffering isn’t always easy, but the victim can testify about how they felt at the death of the pet and how the loss disrupted their life. If the victim had medical treatment or psychological counseling, the claim is strengthened.
If you or someone you know has been injured in accident, call 1-800-Injured to receive the compensation you deserve. We believe everyone matters, and we know what it’s like to feel alone during tough times. Our network has Orlando car accident attorneys who can help, as well as personal injury lawyers all over Florida who have over 35 years of experience.