Can I Receive Compensation if My Pet Was Injured in a Car Accident?
People develop strong bonds with their pets. Although animals, they still become our true friends, always there for us when we need them and vice versa. It’s hard to even imagine our furry friends in pain, but with our busy, modern lives, it can happen.
If you drive with your pet, you should invest in specialized seatbelt harnesses. Your pet may be fussy or resistant to them, but they will be better off in the long run. However, even properly secured, pets can still be injured in a car accident.
When this happens, it’s difficult to know what to do next. Your pet is your family and means the world to you, but how important are they to the other driver, insurance companies, and civil courtrooms? In the eyes of the law, pets are considered property. As such, you must treat their injuries as “property damage.”
Oklahoma is an at-fault state. This means that the driver who was responsible for the accident will be responsible for damages. Their insurance company covers the other driver’s injuries and property damage.
In Oklahoma, as with all states, many drivers opt to pay for the minimum coverage required to legally drive. This means that a maximum of $25,000 will be paid to a driver for their injuries. That same amount, $25,000, is what they can expect to receive for property damages.
This is where a pet injury becomes legally troublesome. The law and the insurance company will view the pet as a piece of property that was damaged in the accident. This puts drivers in a quandary. They will have to choose how much of their benefits to spend on the car and how much to spend on the pet. If the car is severely damaged, it may not leave much money for veterinary bills. Likewise, if the pet is severely injured, veterinary bills can become quite steep. There may not be much money left over to fix the car.
This is assuming that an insurance company will cover veterinary bills at all. Some will value the animal at “market price,” and others will cover what you initially paid to adopt the animal. Some insurance companies will provide coverage only for dogs and cats, which means your adorable miniature pig may not receive any benefits for their injuries.
If your beloved pet is seriously harmed in a car accident, a civil lawsuit may be your only option for damages.
Suing for Pet Injuries
A civil suit could encounter many of the same complications as receiving insurance benefits. Courts could devalue your animal, rewarding only small amounts for their injuries.
This is why you need a skilled lawyer on your side. Your lawyer could potentially win you a substantial compensation. A civil lawsuit can award far more than a standard insurance benefit. By proving gross negligence on the part of the other driver, veterinary fees could potentially be a part of the damages you receive. This could be true even in the event of a pet’s death. Your lawsuit could include claims of pain and suffering, or the death of your pet could be part of a loss of property claim.
If your pet was injured in a vehicle accident, contact us today. We may be able to help you get compensation for veterinary bills, getting your furry friend on the road to recovery. Our number is (918) 347-6456, and you can fill out a contact form here.