Whether they be cats, dogs, or any other type of creature, Americans love their pets. The 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association reveals that 67% of households in the United States include a pet — which equates to 85 million pet families. This number is higher than it has ever been; for example, only 58% of Americans reported that they owned pets in 1988.
As pet owners, we incorporate our pets into many aspects of our lives. We sleep with them in our beds. We take them to the park, to restaurants, and even to the store. We also travel with pets. This means that when car crashes happen, pets are sometimes involved. While you might have a good idea of how things should proceed following a car crash, if your pet was injured in an accident, you likely have various questions including how the case will proceed and what type of compensation can you expect for your pet’s injuries. Although the outcome of a case depends on many different factors, an overview of claims related to an injured pet are below.
Pet Coverage After Missouri Car Crashes
While many pet owners view pets as family members, unfortunately our legal system views pets as personal property, which means that the “value” of an injured pet is the dollar amount that it would cost to obtain a similar pet or to obtain veterinary treatment for your pet. There is no award for the pain and suffering or value for the emotional loss of a pet. Thus, the other driver and his or her insurance company would likely not be responsible for emotional distress or pain and suffering for the loss of a pet. In other words, compensation would be limited to the reasonable market value required to purchase a similar pet. To obtain that compensation, a crash victim will need to pursue an insurance claim against the responsible party’s insurance policy.
Missouri is an “at-fault” state, which means that a driver who caused an accident utilizes their insurance to pay for the damages that result from an accident. Missouri also has pure comparative negligence laws, which means that following a car crash, victims can collect damages proportional to their fault in causing an accident. Remember, Missouri law limits the amount of time that a person has after a car crash to file an insurance claim to five years. To ensure that critical evidence of your accident is not lost, however, it is best to hire an experienced car crash attorney and to file an insurance claim as soon as possible after an accident.
A common problem that car accident victims face when pets are injured in crashes is that insurance carriers often only pay for the market value of the damaged property. If you paid a small fee for a dog, this might mean that the insurance carrier will attempt to only pay this amount. If it was seriously injured, however, this less-than-satisfactory amount can be frustrating. Fortunately, a skilled accident attorney can help.
Advice on Protecting Pets From Getting Injured in Car Accidents
Car accidents can occur in various ways and can involve even the safest drivers. There are fortunately some steps that you can take to greatly reduce a pet’s risk of getting injured in a car crash (keeping a pet properly restrained also minimizes the chance that a pet owner will accidentally cause an accident due to being distracted by their pet):
- Make sure that the pet is properly restrained whenever it travels in a vehicle. Many pets should wear seat belts, just as humans do, or another restraint system designed for pets when traveling in a vehicle.
- Some pets might benefit from a zipline harness. A zipline harness can restrain the animal while allowing it to move around.
- If a pet likes to move around inside a vehicle, consider a guard that prevents the animal from being thrown in case of a collision.
Speak with an Experienced Car Crash Attorney
If you, a loved one, or a pet were injured in a car crash, it is important to remember that you have a right as an accident victim to pursue compensation. Pursuing the results you deserve, however, can be difficult. Fortunately, a compassionate attorney will remain committed to fighting for the results you deserve. Contact House Law LLC today to schedule a free case evaluation.