DOG INJURED IN CAR ACCIDENT
Calling all Dog Lovers! Our lawyers frequently discuss what happens if a person is injured in a car crash, but sometimes our pets can be hurt in a crash as well. One of our attorney colleagues is handling a case that highlights the frustrations and difficulties that arise when a pet is injured. The client’s beloved dog was badly injured in a car crash when a driver ran a red light. The dog had to undergo emergency surgery, which ended up costing more than $7,000 in veterinarian bills.
The vet bills were submitted for reimbursement to the insurance company of the driver who caused the crash. Their response? “A dog is just an object like a car or a piece of furniture, and the insurance company will only pay for the value of the dog (around $200) – not the cost of the vet bills.” In other words, rather than pay for the cost to “repair” the dog, they wanted to consider the dog a “total loss” – as if the dog were like a car. Like a car? How can an insurance company possibly compare a much-loved family pet (family member) to a car or other inanimate object? Even though our lawyers often face ridiculous arguments from insurance companies, we could not help but be shocked and angry on behalf of this poor family whose treasured family member was hurt so bad and still recovering.
Unfortunately, the insurance company has some legal support for their position. Minnesota law treats animals as “property.” That may work for cows and chickens, but there is a difference between livestock and an adored pet. We hope the law will be changed some day. In the meantime, we offer our support to the dog’s family and to our colleague, as they fight this with the insurance company.