Can I Be Compensated If My Pet Is Injured in an Orlando Car Accident?
Written by Shawn Diederich on March 28, 2016
In the aftermath of a car accident, your first concern is obviously ensuring everyone in the vehicle is alright. This includes not just your human passengers but also your four-legged family members. Many Florida residents drive with their pets in the car, and in the event of an accident, it is important to understand how you may be entitled to compensation for an injured animal.
Does Your Insurance Cover Pet Injuries or Death?
Florida is a “no-fault” state with respect to car insurance, meaning a person injured in an accident must first look to their own insurance carrier for compensation. Fortunately, some insurance companies do provide coverage for injuries to pets. For example, Progressive Corporation, one of the country’s largest car insurers, made headlines in 2007 when it started offering “collision coverage for customers’ dogs or cats at no additional premium cost.” Under Progressive’s policy, in the event the policyholder’s pet is injured in a car accident, this coverage pays up to $1,000 in veterinary bills for a dog or cat, or a $1,000 benefit if the pet dies.
Holding the Negligent Driver Responsible
Even if your car policy does not cover pet injuries—and assuming you were not responsible for the accident that injured or killed your pet—you may be entitled to compensation from the negligent driver’s insurance carrier. Florida law requires all drivers to carry at least $10,000 in “property damage liability” This covers any damage done by a negligent driver to the victim’s property, which includes pets.
You may be offended by the notion that your pet is considered “property,” but this is simply a legal designation for insurance purposes. Practically speaking, a negligent driver’s insurance carrier must pay any reasonable veterinary bills for your pet. And in the event your pet is killed, you may seek compensation for the “replacement cost” of your pet.
What You Need to Do Following an Accident
If your pet is injured in a car accident, it is essential to keep detailed records of any treatment that you seek on the animal’s behalf, including veterinary bills and receipts for any prescription medications. The insurance company (or a judge) will need these records to verify your claim for compensation. You should also obtain a copy of any accident report taken by a police officer at the scene, as that may help establish the negligent driver’s liability.
You should also provide your attorney with any records that might establish other compensable injuries. For instance, if your animal was a service dog who assists you in your day-to-day activities, you may be entitled to compensation for any economic losses arising from the animal’s injuries, such as your inability to travel unassisted or go to work. In such circumstances, you might seek compensation for lost wages.
If you have any additional questions on this or any other subject related to car accidents, you should contact an Orlando personal injury lawyer right away. Contact the Diederich Law Firm, P.A., today to speak with an attorney about your case.