Receiving Compensation When Pets are Hurt in a Car Accident
To many Nevadans, their pets are members of their family. According to the Insurance Information Institute, around 68% of households have at least one pet, often a dog or cat. These pets are beloved, and many pet owners would do anything for their four-legged friends. Indeed, Americans spend roughly $70 billion on their pets every year.
Unsurprisingly, many people take their pets with them wherever they go, even on vacation. Because our pets spend so much time in the vehicle with us, they can also be injured in a car accident.
As experienced Las Vegas attorneys, we receive many questions, such as whether pet owners can sue for their veterinary bills. And if so, how much can they receive? What happens if the pet dies in the crash? And can they receive money for the pain and emotional distress that they feel?
Below, our Las Vegas car accident lawyer reviews the key considerations whenever pets are injured in a crash.
Personal Property Liability Coverage Can Pay Benefits
Many pet owners are unaware that they can receive compensation for their pet’s veterinary bills after a car accident. All motorists in Nevada must carry at least $20,000 in property liability insurance. This coverage pays out benefits to injured victims to repair or replace their property.
Typically, the property that must be repaired is the vehicle that you are driving. However, pets also qualify as property. Don’t be offended that the law considers your beloved dog or cat to be “mere” property. This is a legal classification that actually helps you get benefits since animals do not qualify as people under car accident policies.
Because this is liability insurance, you can only make a claim if you are not to blame for the crash. Instead, you make a claim on the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. Generally, a driver is at fault when they were negligent or reckless and ended up being primarily responsible for the accident.
Collision Coverage and Pet Injuries
Some people have collision coverage, which is no-fault insurance that pays benefits whenever they were involved in a crash. Collision coverage is often required when you have a car loan, to protect the lender in the event you are involved in an accident.
You can check to see if your policy covers damage to pets. Some do, but some don’t. The few policies that cover pets typically limit the amount of compensation to a thousand dollars or maybe a little more. However, collision policies can be beneficial if the driver who hit you did not carry any liability insurance, or if you were at fault for the accident and cannot make a claim on another driver’s policy.
Hold onto Bills and Other Expenses
It is vital that you show just how much the accident has cost you. We recommend that pet owners create a file folder where they store all veterinary bills, as well as associated expenses such as the cost of drugs and prosthetics for their pet. To make sure you don’t lose anything, you can also scan all bills and receipts to create a digital copy, which you can store in the cloud.
Proving your damages is central to any personal injury case. The same is true if you also suffered personal injuries in the crash. Remember to hold onto all your medical bills, prescription drug receipts, and rehabilitation bills.
Compensation when a Pet Dies
If your beloved animal was killed in an accident, then you could receive compensation for the death. Typically, we must analyze your pet’s “market value.” This is a complicated analysis that looks at your pet’s breed and age, among other factors.
For example, a rare dog breed will be worth more than a mutt, and a younger pet is typically worth more than an older one.
You can receive this fair market value in addition to any money spent treating your pet after the accident, along with the cost of burial for your animal. So this is additional money on top of those expenses.
Unfortunately, pet owners probably will not receive any compensation for the pain and suffering they have endured due to the death. This is unfortunate, since many people enter into a deep depression.
Bringing a Lawsuit for Injuries to Your Pet
Nevada has a special law, NRS 41.740, that allows pet owners to sue when someone hurts or kills their pet. The law has many limitations, however:
- It is limited to injuries to domesticated dogs and cats that you keep at home. It will not cover other pets, like birds or rabbits.
- The maximum amount that a plaintiff can receive is $5,000. Pet owners can receive damages for the cost of veterinary care, reduction in market value due to injury, reasonable burial expenses, and the market value of the pet if it was killed.
- Owners cannot receive compensation for pain and suffering.
There is another wrinkle, however. Plaintiffs can also receive reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs for litigating the lawsuit. This means that an attorney is very affordable, and a heartbroken pet owner will not need to tackle their case alone.
Protecting Your Pet after Your Accident
If you were injured in a crash, you probably are worried about who will look after your pet. Many people will think first to call a loved one to come take their pet for them.
You might also check with the local Humane Society. In some areas, they will watch a pet for a few days. This should be enough time to receive prompt medical care or arrange for someone else to pick up Fido if you are still at the hospital. Never fear that they will be left to fend for themselves.
Contact Our Law Firm for More Information
At Naqvi Injury Law we understand how much a pet means to your family. To that end, we strive to obtain as much compensation as possible when a beloved animal has been injured or killed in a car accident.
Please contact our law firm today. We offer a free consultation with one of our Las Vegas car accident lawyers.