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Can I File A Lawsuit For My Injured Pet?

Posted by Harlene Labrum | Jul 12, 2021

For pet owners, animal companions can become an adored member of the household and a treasured part of the family. Sixty-seven percent of American households have at least one animal in the home, with the most popular pet being a dog. The injury of a pet can be a particularly devastating experience for the owner or family of a pet, and can lead to steep and unanticipated veterinary bills reaching the thousands.

When faced with veterinary bills and emotional distress following a pet injury resulting from a car accident, you may be unsure of whether or not you are able to receive compensation. If you're wondering, “can I file a lawsuit for my injured pet?” it is advised to contact an experienced Tennessee car accident attorney to discuss your options and decide whether filing a lawsuit is the best step for you. Experienced lawyers at Labrum Law are available to answer your questions regarding injured pet lawsuits resulting from car accidents at (615) 338-9500.

Pet Injuries Due to Car Accidents

Pets are also commonly injured during car accidents, either as passengers in the vehicle or alternatively, when they are unrestrained and are struck by traffic. With millions of collisions happening each year, car accidents are a highly common incident. According to the American Automobile Association, more than 80% of dog owners drive with their pets in the vehicle, often not using a restraint. Similar to a young child, pets can be severely injured or killed by the force exerted during an accident.

In the event that your pet is injured when you're involved in a car accident, you may be eligible for settlement compensation due to pain and suffering damages. For more information regarding motor vehicle accident settlements, please contact our experienced car crash attorneys at Labrum Law today.

How Much Compensation Can I Receive After Injury of a Pet?

Under Tennessee Code § 44-17-403, if a pet is killed, or dies of injuries sustained due to the negligent or unlawful actions of another, the individual that caused the death of the pet may be liable for up to $5,000 in noneconomic damages. Moreover, if an unlawful act has resulted in the permanent disability or death of a guide dog, then the owner is able to receive compensation for both the cost of the guide dog as well as the costs of any specialized training received.

Most states, including Tennessee, do not have specific laws governing the injury of a pet that does not result in death. In these situations, courts will typically limit the compensation to the economic losses endured by the owner. There are different ways to measure these economic losses, including:

  • Fair market value: Generally, pets are considered personal property under the law and thus their value can be measured based on how much monetary value they hold on the market. For example, if a purebred Siberian Husky was purchased for $1,000, then this is the fair market value that will be assessed in courts during a lawsuit. In assessing fair market value, factors like pedigree, age, and general health of the pet are considered.
  • Special economic value: In some situations, the pet's fair market value does not represent a holistic picture of its worth. In cases where the animal has received specialized training or if the pet is kept for breeding, the courts may award compensation for any lost revenue or for the amount spent on training.
  • Consequential damages: Expenses such as veterinary bills fall under this category. The owner must prove that the expenditure of funds would not have occurred if the pet was not injured by another individual out of negligence or malicious intent

Economic damages do not always reflect the true value of the pet, especially if the animal plays a large role in the daily life of the owner or if the injury of the pet is substantial or severe. Every case will have its own set of facts and circumstances.

Receiving compensation for mental anguish and emotional distress, however, is much more difficult to prove in a lawsuit and courts are much more hesitant to accept such arguments in cases involving pet injuries or deaths. Additionally, Tennessee does not specifically have any laws that address compensation for emotional distress following the injury of an animal.

In order to receive compensation for the injury of a pet, it is important to document all steps of the process including veterinary bills and copies of treatment records. Maintaining these documents can make the difference between a successful pet injury lawsuit and an unsuccessful one. If you experienced the loss of a pet as a result of a negligent, reckless, or careless driver, you may have the right to receive compensation for your injuries and losses. Consider visiting with an experienced car accident attorney at Labrum Law to learn more about your legal rights and ensure they remain protected.

Contact an Experienced Tennessee Personal Injury Attorney

After an injury, caring for your pet is always the first priority. Enduring a pet injury can be overwhelming, both financially and emotionally, and can leave you with steep medical bills and severe mental distress. The death of a pet can be particularly devastating, especially if it was the result of a catastrophic car accident resulting from another driver's negligence.

If you or a loved one has experienced a pet injury, you may be wondering if you can receive compensation for the resulting damages and expenses. Experienced attorneys at Labrum Law are here to help. Call (615) 338-9500 to consult with a personal injury lawyer today to discuss your options.

About the Author

Harlene Labrum

Harlene is focused and passionate about helping those injured in car wrecks.  She earned her J.D. at Nashville School of Law and her Bachelor's degree at State University of New York at Albany, awarded with the highest GPA and high honors.  Harlene began her career in law as a personal injury par...

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