Losing a pet is an emotional time in a person’s life. As the pet owner, you may wonder if you are eligible for legal compensation if someone kills your dog by running them over. After all, you suffer emotional anguish and even loss of companionship. For those who have authorized help pets, such as guide dogs, service pets, or even emotional support animals, losing their pets can be even more damaging to their overall quality of life.
So, it is very common for pet owners to wonder if they can pursue legal action against someone who kills their pet by hitting them with their car. Although these types of civil cases are complex and often differ among local jurisdictions, there are a few general understandings surrounding such pet accidents that you should be aware of.
Continue reading to learn about your rights and liabilities as a pet owner in the case that they are hit by a car, and where you can get a free consultation to learn whether you can sue for emotional damage and mental anguish if this ever happens to you.
Dogs and Leash Laws
In most counties, if an unleashed dog is hit by a vehicle in a public area, the owner may not be entitled to any compensation. In fact, in many jurisdictions, the pet owner may be liable for any damages done to the person’s vehicle because of the impact. Although this seems somewhat unfair, it is generally up to the pet owner to secure their dog in public places. In a court of law, the judgment would most likely not be in favor of the dog owner. If the dog was on a leash but escaped from the pet owner’s grasp, there may be a slight chance the pet owner can walk without being liable for any damages.
In the rare circumstance that a dog is killed by another person or vehicle while on a leash, there may be a chance for the pet owner to gain compensation for their loss. In court, a judge and jury would have to determine the degree of fault per party. That percentage will inevitably determine the amount of compensation the victim will receive.
If the plaintiff’s legal party can prove that the driver was acting negligent or reckless, and that their carelessness directly caused the death of the pet, there may be a higher chance for them to be found liable for the dog’s demise. Negligence and recklessness would include driving under the influence, intoxication, using a cell phone while driving, speeding, ignoring traffic signs, driving off road, and similar distracting or illegal behaviors.
Intentional Torts or Recklessness
In the case that someone intentionally inflicts harm, abuses, or kills your dog, they can be held accountable in both criminal court and civil court. Dog owners who become victims of this kind of intentional act of malice or recklessness stand to incur all sorts of damages and losses aside from emotional and mental anguish, such as veterinary bills, prolonged treatment or therapy for your dog, lost wages from missing work to stay home and care for your dog, fuel costs traveling to and from vet appointments, and more.
If a person were to kill a registered guide dog, service pet, assistance animal, or emotional support pet, they could face civil and criminal penalties depending on whether the act was intentional or not and various other details of the case. In a criminal court, a guilty verdict would render a likely sentence of heavy fines, community service, restitution to the victim, and an order to pay the victim’s legal fees and attorney costs. In a civil court, the dog owner could be awarded damages for vet bills, lost wages, mental and emotional suffering, loss of companionship, and more.
Passenger Dogs Killed in Car Accidents
If you were in a serious car accident that was the fault of a negligent or careless driver, and your dog was inside the car and died because of the collision, you could possibly recover additional damages aside from the common types of damages awarded in personal injury lawsuits. Speak to an Indianapolis IN car accident lawyer as soon as possible to learn your rights to compensation.
The best way to avoid a tragic accident with your pet is to have it on a leash and always secured properly when in public areas. Prevention is possible with a little responsibility. If your dog has been hurt in a car accident, be sure to contact your veterinarian immediately.
Was your dog, cat, service animal, horse, or livestock recently injured or killed because of another’s negligence or intentional act? Contact Carl Brizzi LAW at 317-636-7497 to speak with an experienced civil litigator in Indianapolis, Indiana about your eligibility to pursue legal action against them and recover a settlement for your damages and losses. We serve clients throughout the state.
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