Can I Seek Compensation for Injuries My Pet Suffered in a Car Accident?
Americans love their pets. According to a recent survey taken by the American Pet Products Association, 67 percent of U.S. households own at least one pet. That number is up 58 percent since Americans were first asked about their household pets in 1988.
We also travel with our pets. Unfortunately, car accidents can still occur when people travel with their pets.
What happens when you are involved in a car accident and your beloved pet gets injured?
Is My Pet Covered in a Car Accident?
Pets are considered personal property, so you may be able to obtain insurance compensation for damages if they get injured in a crash. You would need to file an insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage.
Even though New Jersey is a no-fault state and crash victims generally look to their personal injury protection (PIP) policy to cover their injuries, property damage is not covered by PIP. Even if you have collision coverage in your own insurance policy, this only provides compensation for damage to your vehicle. The other driver’s property damage liability policy may cover damage to other personal property, such as your pet.
How Much Could I Receive?
One problem you may run into is the insurance company saying they will only pay for the market value of the damaged property. For example, say you paid $150 to purchase your dog from a shelter. The insurance company may say they are only required to pay $150 in damages, even though you may have vet bills that far exceed that amount.
However, some insurance companies have exclusions when it comes to pets. For example, maybe only cats and dogs are covered – exotic animals may be excluded. It is also important to note you cannot obtain compensation to help with preexisting conditions your pet suffers from.
Make sure to carefully document your pet’s injuries and the expenses you accrue to treat your pet. Otherwise it may be very difficult to obtain full compensation for your pet’s damages.
It is very unlikely you would be able to collect compensation for non-economic damages related to your pet’s injury or death. For example, you probably will not be able to collect compensation for your mental anguish related to your pet’s injuries or their death.
It is also important to note you may be able to file a lawsuit to recover compensation for damages from the crash, including damages suffered by your pet. However, most claims are resolved through an insurance settlement. A lawsuit is generally a last resort, particularly if the insurance company’s settlement offer is too low.
These are all things you can discuss with one of the licensed New Jersey car accident lawyers at Lynch Law Firm, PC.
New Jersey Laws on Driving with Pets
Every state in the U.S. has laws requiring children to be safely restrained while traveling in a vehicle. However, New Jersey is the only state in the union to require the same thing for pets.
According to state law, driving with an unrestrained pet in a vehicle is a violation of animal cruelty laws and pet owners who fail to comply could face hefty fines or even jail time.
How to Protect Your Pet
Due to the unpredictable nature of car accidents, it is impossible to keep anyone, let alone a pet, entirely safe from serious harm during a collision. However, the most sensible way to do it is to keep them properly restrained while they are traveling in a vehicle.
Luckily, companies have taken notice of Americans’ love of their pets and developed more ways to keep pets safe during travel such as the bubble pet carrier, the auto zip line that keeps your pooch secure while a vehicle is in motion and crash-tested crates that are capable of being locked down by a car’s seatbelt much like a car seat for a child.
Another way to help keep pets protected is to get pet insurance. This type of insurance is typically for dogs and cats for when they become unexpectedly sick or get hurt in an accident. If you have pet insurance, you could potentially avoid a lengthy fight with a car insurance company about compensation for vet bills and other damages.
Call Today to Discuss Your Claim
If your pet was injured in a car accident, you may have options for pursuing compensation. You should consider hiring a lawyer who may be able to assist you.
Our attorneys work on a contingency basis, so you do not have to pay anything unless we recover compensation for your case. This means there is no risk to you.
Call today to set up a free, no-obligation evaluation at (800) 518-0508 .