Animals in Car Accidents

Many of us have pets that we hold near and dear to our hearts and consider to be members of our families. Since these beloved animals are so important in our lives, we would do anything to ensure their well-being. Although we see pets as family members, animals are actually considered property under North Carolina law. If you are ever in an automobile accident and your pet is injured as a result of the collision, you should file a claim for property damage to receive the appropriate compensation for your pet’s injuries.

Consider, for example, that you are driving down the highway with your dog, Bruno, in the backseat, and you are rear-ended by another driver. Due to the impact of the collision, Bruno suffers a broken leg. You take Bruno to the veterinarian for an examination and discover that he must undergo a surgery that will cost $3,000.00. To avoid paying out of pocket for Bruno’s surgery, you should file a claim with your insurance company for property damage. Under North Carolina law, an animal’s injuries are treated similarly to damages to an accident victim’s car. If your car sustains damages in a collision, you take it to a car repair shop for an inspection to determine the cost of repairs, just as you take a pet to the veterinarian if they are injured.

Related Damages When Animal is Injured

The law does not have a special realm for injuries to animals; however, the goal after a to make the owner whole again. Typically, in circumstances where you are not at fault for the accident, the other party’s insurance company will cover the financial costs and damages. You will be required to prove to the insurance company that the accident was not your fault. Some of the damages that may be recoverable due to an animal being injured include:

  • Surgery costs
  • Veterinarian visits
  • Medications
  • Hospitalization
  • Death of the animal

Insurance companies may cover such damages as long as they are reasonable and necessary and proper care is provided by a qualified (“Western animal care”) veterinarian. The insurance company will not cover extreme methods of care such as counseling for an animal’s emotional state following an accident.

Things to Remember When Your Pet is Injured

If you have been involved in a car accident and your pet is injured as a result of the collision, here are a few things to remember:

  • You must file a claim for property damage as the injury of an animal does not fall under bodily injury liability.
  • Make sure your pet is taken care of medically by seeking reasonable and necessary medical care from a veterinarian.
  • Advise the insurance company as soon as possible what the veterinarian has recommended.
  • Insurance companies will not pay for something that they did not cause; therefore, if you were at fault for the accident, the other party’s insurance company will not cover the “property damage” (the injuries your pet suffers as a result of the accident).

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