Auto accidents are bad enough as it is, but especially when a four-legged family member is involved. While seatbelts and airbags are designed to protect humans from getting seriously injured during a car crash (as long as you are buckled in), canine and feline passengers don’t have the same safety restraints, so a seemingly minor collision can put them in serious danger.
While our pets may be a part of our family, the legal rights for animals differs from that of humans, and many owners get confused about what to do if their pet is involved in a car accident.
For instance, if your pet is injured when another vehicle crashes into yours, who is responsible for paying their vet bills —you or the at-fault driver? Or how about if a pet runs out in front of your car, causing you to swerve and get in an accident —what then?
Here are 3 of the most common questions about car accidents involving pets:
Is my pet covered by my insurance in a car accident?
If your pet was injured in a collision that you caused, determining whether or not your insurance covers the vet bills depends on your insurance provider. Some policies include an exclusion that exempts insurers from having to pay for “personal property” within the car that is damaged upon impact. This often includes pets. For instance, State Farm’s policies don’t provide coverage for pets whatsoever, whereas Progressive pays up to $1,000 in vet bills. Ask your insurer if pets are covered under your policy.
When should another driver pay for my pet’s vet bills?
If another driver crashes into you and causes your pet injury, you have the right to file a “third-party claim” on their policy to cover your pet’s medical bills. The purpose of their liability insurance is to put you “back where you were” before the accident, and that should include the health of your furry friend.
What if I hit a loose pet?
Owners are responsible for any damage caused by their improperly restrained pet. This means, if you hit a person’s dog or cat, the owner will be held liable for fixing any damage to your vehicle and injuries resulting from the collision. Typically, coverage will be provided by the pet owner’s homeowner’s insurance. If the animal’s owner cannot be located, your comprehensive coverage policy should compensate you for damages.
A tip for keeping both you and your pet safe when bringing them along for a drive is to purchase a pet safety belt, or consider putting them in a pen to prevent them from becoming projectiles in the event of a collision.
And if your furry loved one is injured in a car accident caused by another driver, but the at-fault party or their insurance company refuses to pay for your pet’s vet bills, contact car accident attorney R. Mack Babcock and associates immediately.