Under Texas law, pets are considered personal property. This means that if your pet is injured or killed in a crash, you have the legal right to pursue compensation for their damages. However, the insurance company may try and deny or devalue your claim for compensation for veterinary bills and other damages.
Let our auto accident lawyers in Fort Worth help you fight to recover the full value of your damages, including veterinary bills. Our attorneys have over 50 years of combined experience representing injury victims and have successfully recovered millions in compensation on their behalf.
Call us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your claim and see what legal options may be available to you.
Filing a Claim for Vet Bills if Your Pet is Injured
If your pet suffers an injury in a car accident, you most likely will have to take it to the animal hospital or clinic. Although vet fees may be expensive, you may be able to include the vet bills in your claim against the at-fault driver’s liability insurance.
However, it is important to note that the wording of every insurance policy is different. The insurance company may only cover vet expenses up to a certain amount. Some pets may be excluded from insurance policies, such as exotic pets like birds, horses or reptiles.
It is important to have an experienced attorney to help you review the insurance policy to determine how much compensation you may be able to pursue.
Filing a Claim if Your Pet Dies in the Accident
Recovering compensation for a pet that dies in a car accident may be more complex than filing a claim for vet bills. Remember that Texas law classifies pets as property, so the insurance company is only legally required to pay the fair market value or the cost to replace your property.
The fair market value of a deceased pet is typically measured by what it would have cost if you were to sell your pet to someone. For example, a cat or dog adopted from an animal shelter may not be worth the same as a dog or cat that was purchased from a certified breeder.
If your pet had special skills or certifications, such as if it was a service animal, you may be able to file a claim to have the cost of replacing the animal paid for by the liable insurance company.
You may also be able to file a claim for lost potential income if the animal that died in the crash was linked to your income, such as a show animal.
Compensation for Non-Economic Damages
Texas law allows injury victims to recover damages for emotional distress, which would fall under the category of pain and suffering. In an accident in which you suffered an injury and the loss of a beloved pet, an experienced attorney may be able to help negotiate compensation for the emotional distress of losing your pet. However, this matter may be more complex and difficult to prove, even though there is legal precedent in the state awarding non-economic damages for the loss of a pet.
How The Insurance Company May Try to Deny Your Claim
The insurance company is likely going to try and deny coverage for an injured or deceased pet by claiming the animal was not properly restrained. While it may be in your pet’s best interest to properly restrain it while it is in the car, there is no legal obligation in Texas to do so.
Fortunately, Texas’ modified comparative fault laws may still provide leeway for you to recover reduced compensation for your pet’s injuries if you are assigned partial fault for its injuries. As this may be a heavily contested issue by the insurance company, it would be in your best interest to speak to a licensed attorney who may be able to help build a case on your behalf.
How to Protect Your Pet
As more people travel with pets in their cars, there is a greater risk of an accident which may lead to serious injuries to pets and humans alike. Therefore, it is important to take precautionary steps to protect animals when traveling by keeping them properly restrained and off a driver’s lap. It is also important to consider purchasing an insurance policy for your pet to help pay vet bills while the insurance company fights your claim.
Call Us Today for a Free Consultation
If you and your pet were injured in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be eligible to recover compensation for your damages and your pet’s damages.
Speak to one of our experienced attorneys during a free consultation to see what legal options may be available to help you pursue the compensation you need.
Our attorneys work on a contingency basis, which means there are no upfront fees.
Call us today at (817) 920-9000.