Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim After Someone Runs Over My Dog?

Pets are regarded as property in the eyes of the law. For years, pet parents have been distressed to find that their options for legal recourse do not sufficiently reflect the significant, long-lasting emotional trauma of losing a pet to someone else's negligence. Some states have slowly begun to change this approach, including Maryland. If you live in Baltimore, you can talk to an accident attorney to find out if you could file a lawsuit against the person who caused the car accident that killed your dog.

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Consulting an Injury Lawyer

The sudden loss of a beloved member of the family can interfere with your clarity of thought. As difficult as it is to discuss the event, you do need to see a lawyer promptly. He or she will review your case and evaluate the value of the claim. Depending on the circumstances, you may wish to settle the case out of court. Your attorney can contact the negligent driver or the insurance carrier to explain the monetary value of your loss, and offer to settle the case instead of filing a lawsuit. If compensation isn't forthcoming, you can take legal action.

Filing a Lawsuit

You can only sue for wrongful death if a human was killed. However, you can still file a civil lawsuit against the person who killed your pet. Your lawyer will present evidence to prove that the defendant's negligence directly caused the car accident that killed your dog. Once the defendant is served with the paperwork, it's quite possible that he or she will be more willing to settle the case out of court.

Assessing Damages

A key component of any lawsuit is the assessment of damages. In many jurisdictions, dog owners are limited in the amount of compensation they can recover. A court will typically award the amount the dog would cost, plus related veterinary bills. The following factors may play a role in determining the dog's value.

  • Purchase price
  • Breed
  • Training
  • Age
  • Health (prior to the car accident)
  • Special characteristics of value
  • Usefulness

If the dog was a champion show dog, a service dog, or specially trained law enforcement dog, the value would increase. Recently, Maryland courts have ruled in favor of allowing bereaved puppy parents to secure compensation for their emotional distress. Claims of mental anguish can be substantiated by records that show you sought mental health counseling in the wake of the death.

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