The Cassidy Law Firm Blog

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

My dog was hurt in a car accident. Can I collect his vet bills and injuries?

Our pets are a big part of our family. This is why so many folks here in Pennsylvania don’t leave home without their dog. Unfortunately, if you get into a car accident, your dog can get injured or even killed as a result of the collision. While nothing can ever replace your family dog, you can make a claim for the injuries. A great deal will depend on the circumstances of your pet in a car accident and which driver was at fault. As you can see, your car accident attorney will have to know what happened, much like when you make a claim for damage to your car and injuries you and your human passengers may have sustained.

Can I get compensated for vet bills as a result of my dog’s injuries?

You have the right to get reimbursed for the veterinary bills you incurred as a result of your pet’s injuries that were sustained in the car accident. This will often depend on the issue of fault. If the other driver was at fault, then his or her insurance company will reimburse you for this expense. This is not unlike what happens to you or any other human passenger in your vehicle who gets injured in an accident caused by the negligence of another driver. In this case, though, the pets are treated as personal property, and reimbursement is handled in that fashion.

The issue becomes more complicated if you are unable to prove that the other driver was at fault. For you and your other human passengers, you will still be able to get coverage for your medical expenses under the personal injury protection (PIP) of your own auto insurance policy. However, this does not apply to animals. You can get a pet insurance policy to cover injuries and vet bills incurred from the accident, even if you are at fault. Without this coverage, you will have to go out of pocket to pay for these expenses.

What happens if my pet gets killed in a car accident?

Currently, under Pennsylvania law, pets are treated as personal property. Therefore, you are limited in what you can collect if your dog gets killed in a car accident. For example, you cannot collect non-economic damages, like pain and suffering. While you may be heartbroken over the loss of a beloved dog, the law does not view your pet the same way it does to a close relative or other family member. 

The amount you can recover for your lost pet is limited to the replacement cost of an animal of the same breed. If you purchase a rare, purebred dog, then you may be compensated for the current value of the same type of dog. Further, for dogs that were trained for special purposes, like guiding eye or guard dogs, you may get additional compensation as well. However, if you simply adopted a dog from the local animal shelter, then your compensation may be limited to as little as your out-of-pocket fees paid at the time of adoption. 

In situations where your pet was injured and subsequently passed away as the direct result of an accident caused by another driver, then you should also be able to recover the vet bills you incurred for treatment. This would be in addition to any compensation for the replacement cost of your dog.

What can I do to better protect my pet while I drive?

While there are few things more fun than taking a long drive with your furry friend, you could actually be increasing the risks to yourself, your vehicle, and your dog. Sure, your dog loves sticking her head out the window and feeling the breeze, but this could increase the odds that she will be injured during your drive. That is why you should consider investing in a specialized dog carrier for times you need to take a long drive with your pet. This will keep your dog safe, especially if she is the type who is very rambunctious and loves to jump into your lap when you are driving.

If your pet has been injured or killed in a car accident, call our firm today so we can assist you.

Few things are harder for a pet lover than to see their dog suffering from an injury sustained in a car accident. If your dog has been injured in a crash, call The Cassidy Law Firm today so that our team of car accident attorneys can help you get reimbursed for your vet bills and compensation if you lost your pet in the accident.

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