Can I Seek Compensation for Pet Injuries in a Car Accident?

Pets are an integral part of many American households and judging by statistics from the American Veterinary Medical Association, over 57% of households own a pet or two. Taking a pet along on drives to the supermarket, or on leisure trips is common for many pet owners. Sometimes these trips, such as taking the animal to the vet, are a necessity.

pet injured in car accident

Unfortunately, this also puts your pet at risk in the event of a car accident. So, what happens in case an automobile accident also involves a pet? If such an accident results in injury or the death of your pet- whether it is a cat, dog, or any other domesticated animal, you may be entitled to compensation from the party at-fault. It would be helpful to discuss the specifics of your case with an experienced St. Louis car accident attorney to better understand what you may be entitled to.

Factors That Matter

Remember, even if your pet is insured, the coverage may not extend to injuries sustained in a car accident. Pet insurance policies often only cover illnesses. There are three things to consider here though:

  • If the accident was caused by the other driver, you can try to claim compensation through their policy’s liability. Whether or not you succeed depends on the accident details and their policy.
  • If the accident was your fault, there’s a good chance you won’t be covered since most policies do not cover this.
  • If you are covered only by the mandatory minimum insurance as required by a state, you’re likely not covered. Minimum auto insurance generally does not cover pets. In almost every state, a minimum plan only covers your liability.

Damages in Accidents Involving Pets

In most state laws governing pet injuries during car accidents, pets are considered “personal property”. Any emotional/sentimental value they hold is not necessarily considered while deciding the compensation. If you’re not at fault for the accident, the veterinary expenses incurred for the treatment of the pet may be covered provided that the driver responsible for the accident has liability insurance. 

You should bear in mind that there are limits to the amount of compensation you are entitled to claim. A St. Louis auto accident attorney will be able to guide you on your legal options.   

Compensation for Veterinary Expenses

Veterinary expenses incurred for treating a pet injured in a car accident are generally eligible for compensation as long as they are reasonable. In order to determine what’s reasonable, several factors are taken into consideration including the age and health of your pet.

You can file a claim with the insurance company of the at-fault driver for such compensation. However, you also need to remember that pet coverage is different for every insurance provider and if an insurer does not cover pets in an accident you have the option to file a civil case seeking damages against the other driver. 

Compensation for the Loss of a Pet 

If your pet is tragically killed in an automobile accident, you may be entitled to compensation for the value of the pet. This value is determined in the following ways:

Market Value

In cases of accidents, a pet is considered property, and its value is determined by how much it would sell for on the open market. Factors involved in determining the fair value of a pet include breed, pedigree, age, and health, and at times the purchase price.

Cost of Replacement

In certain cases, you may be awarded damages amounting to the cost of replacing your pet. This value is usually always greater than the fair market value and considers factors such as the pet’s training and accomplishments.

Special Economic Value

Service animals are not regarded as simple pets. Since these animals are trained to perform certain tasks, they are considered a vital part of a disabled person’s life and none of the above would typically equal the value the animal held for the owner.

In such cases, a special economic value is considered which in most cases is higher than both market value and replacement costs and takes into account the impact the pet had on the owner’s day to day life.

Speak With an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer

If your pet was recently injured or killed in a recent accident, reach out to a knowledgeable St. Louis auto accident attorney for legal assistance.

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Updated: November 20, 2020