Can you sue over a pet injury?
You probably know that there are laws about what happens when your pet attacks or injures someone else. But what if your precious pug or favorite feline gets injured because of another animal's (or human's) actions?
Suing over injuries to one's pet raises some interesting legal issues. Here are a few you may want to consider:
Pets Are Property
The "pets are property" rule means that if your pet is unfortunately killed, you may be able to get the party responsible for your pet's death to pay for the "fair market value" of your pet. Other types of damages may be available as well.
Here are some ways where you may be able to recover for an injury to your pet:
If your pet was injured due to someone else's negligence, you may be able to get compensation for the costs you incurred from it.
Negligence occurs when someone breaches a duty of care, which then causes an injury. If negligence is proven in a pet injury case, then an injured party can potentially collect damages for things like veterinary bills and, depending on the circumstances, perhaps even punitive damages.
Small Claims Court
If a pet owner can't afford to hire an attorney, or just doesn't want to because of the small amount of damages they might get, going to small claims court is an option.
Generally, small claims courts hear cases involving damages up to a certain dollar amount (like $5,000, for example). Going to small claims court can quickly help a pet owner recover veterinary bills and other "smaller" expenses incurred from their pet injury.
Some pet injury cases, however, can get complicated -- for example, if food poisoning or even intentional poisoning was to blame. For more guidance on how to sue over an injury to your pet, you may want to consult an experienced personal injury lawyer near you.
- What to do when your companion animal has been injured or killed (Animal Legal Defense Fund)
- How to Sue Someone in Small Claims Court (FindLaw's Injured)
- Animal Bites: Who Pays Damages? (FindLaw)
- Get an On-Call Attorney to Answer Your Questions With a Legal Plan From LegalStreet (LegalStreet.com)
(Disclosure: LegalStreet and FindLaw.com are owned by the same company.)