01 Sep Crashes Involving Pets, Dog Bites, City SC
Welcome to the Newsletter
Rana Law Group Newsletter
In this issue:
- Crashes Involving Pets
- Dog Bites
- Just for Fun: City SC
Crashes Involving Pets
Of the many cases our office handled in the past involving motor vehicle crashes, very few included a pet in the vehicle and, thankfully, few were seriously injured. However, many people travel with pets and they are just as susceptible to injury and death as human passengers. They can also be the cause of vehicle crashes if they cause a distraction to the driver, jump from the vehicle or fall in the pedal area. For the safety of everyone, human or otherwise, all pets should be properly restrained while traveling. There are many products on the market to keep small dogs and large dogs securely in place in the event of a crash. Cats should travel inside their carriers while the vehicle is moving. Tarun travels with the family cat Maggie frequently in her spacious carrier and, if you talk to him while he is traveling, you may hear her meowing angrily in the background. The carrier should be secured to the seat so the pet is not thrown against the dash in the event of sudden stop or a crash. You can find more great information on safely traveling with pets here.
But what if, despite all the proper safety measures in place, someone hits your vehicle and your pet is injured or killed? Unfortunately, you may not like the answer. Missouri considers animals to be personal property (legally referred to as chattel) and an owner is limited to economic damages for an injury to an animal. This means owners can only recover the fair market value of the pet (the cost to purchase a similar animal) or the veterinary bills associated with the injuries (to an extent). While there is a large amount of emotional distress that comes with the loss of what many consider a family member, the at-fault party is not responsible for pain and suffering when it comes to animals. While the owner of an injured pet has certain rights, unfortunately they are limited under the law based on pets having the classification of chattel. If this happens to you, it is important to inform your attorney immediately and keep all veterinary bills so that the proper claim for damages can be made on your behalf.
Are you sensing a theme here? The September Newsletter has gone to the dogs!
As previously discussed in our March 2021 newsletter, we (unfortunately) handle a lot of dog bite cases both as personal injury and worker’s compensation claims. Under Missouri law, a dog owner is liable for a dog bite, regardless of whether the dog was previously vicious or whether the owner knew of any vicious tendencies (legally called strict liability). Legal defenses to a dog bite incident include provocation of the dog and trespassing. Illinois law is similar.
In both states, if the victim had a legal right to be where the incident took place (was invited onto the property or in a public place, called an invitee), he or she will defeat the trespass defense. Provocation is taken case by case. For instance, a child grabbing a dog’s tail could be construed as provocation but it is a weaker defense as compared to the dog bite victim instigating a bite by hitting the dog. A more common scenario is a child walking up to a dog and the dog gets surprised and bites the child. In that scenario, that would not be considered provocation and the dog owner will likely be liable for the child’s injuries. We even had a dog bite where our client was a teenage girl who had a purse with chain links for the strap. The insurance adjuster tried to say she provoked the dog by wearing the chain link purse. The standard for provocation is high and this “defense” did not work.
The good news is most homeowner’s policies cover dog bites, however, it is important to know the exclusions, including whether you are covered away from your property or if a specific breed (such as a pit-bull) is covered.
Dog bite injuries can be very serious and leave lifelong scars. Below are a few of the injuries we encountered. If the bite requires medial attention or plastic surgery, it is worth consulting an attorney to determine your legal rights, including how to pay for your damages. It is also a good idea to contact animal control so they can properly investigate whether the dog was up to date on vaccines.
Just for Fun: City SC
I was finally able to attend a City SC game and see the new CITYPARK stadium (which has a permanent dog friendly space inside the park)! The heat index for the game was well over 100 degrees even with a 9pm start time. Our team brought home a 6-3 win over Austin FC. My friends warned me this many goals is not normal and I should not expect that much action every time I attend but it made the game much more exciting! There was a pregame party outside the gates with a live band and giveaways. No offense to soccer (football) fans out there but the main reason I wanted to go was to try the food. There are tons of local favorites in the stadium like Balkan Treat Box, Nudo House, Union Loafers, Dewey’s and Steve’s Hot Dogs. I ended up going with Beast’s pulled pork nachos (I will spare you the photo of me decimating it) and the chocolate chip pistachio cookie. Overall, I had a great time and am glad I was able to make it to a game in the team’s inaugural season. Go City SC!