Pet Peeve-Limitations In Seeking Compensation for Injuries to Pets
About once a month our firm receives a call where a potential client is seeking compensation for an injury or death of a family pet. Pet injuries and pet deaths can occur under a wide range of circumstances. They can result from sub-standard veterinary care, a negligent driver or an animal attack by another pet. Most commonly the injury or death of a family pet is caused by an attack by another pet and the potential client is seeking to recover from the owner of the pet that attacked.
Under California law, the recovery for the death or injury of a family pet is severely limited. Unless the pet was intentionally killed, there is no claim for emotional distress. There is no claim for loss of companionship either. The pet is treated as personal property and the damages a pet owner is entitled to is the cost of a replacement pet or the reduction in the value of the pet as injured. Since there is no real market for used pets, the amount a pet owner can recover is minimal. This seems cold and harsh as many pets are considered a family member, but this is the law in California.
However, an aggrieved pet owner may recover additional compensation in two circumstances. The first is when the pet had “peculiar” value that makes it more valuable as personal property. In other words, if the pet that was killed was Spud Mckenzie or a championship show dog, its economic property value is worth more and may be recovered. In addition, the medical expenses reasonably incurred to try and save the animal or to treat it for the injury may be recovered. This is true even when the costs of medical care far exceed the value of the pet.
Contact the Piccuta Law Group today if you or a loved one are seeking compensation for an injury to, or the loss of a pet. If you have spent significant amounts of money treating your pet’s injury or trying to save its life, the attorneys at the Piccuta Law Group can help you seek a recovery. Call today for a free consultation.