Can I Go After Someone's Auto Insurance for Hitting My Dog?
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There are tons of animal lovers out there, and many consider their dogs to be just like family. Going through the experience of having a dog injured by a car can be devastating, and many will do almost anything to get man's best friend up and running around again. Unfortunately, medical care from a veterinarian can be expensive, and few people consider getting auto insurance coverage for pets. Whether the policy of the person who hit the animal will pay for your pet's injuries will depend on how the the accident happened. If the dog was hit because of a driver's negligence, the motorist's insurance carrier may provide some compensation.
Dogs Injured While Inside a Car
If a driver hits your car and injures a dog riding inside of it, the other driver's insurer may be obligated to pay vet bills. The other motorist must be responsible for the accident in order for their insurer to honor the claim (e.g.: he or she ran a red light, was speeding, or came into another motorist's lane).
In this case, it's likely that their property damage liability coverage will be used to pay for the injuries, rather than their bodily injury liability. Although animal lovers may disagree, car insurance companies often consider dogs to be the property of their owner, and bodily injury liability coverage is intended to pay for injuries sustained by a person.
If you cause an auto accident in which your own dog is injured, you will have to pay for the vet costs on your own or through some other form of coverage. Some insurers do offer policies that include coverage for a pet's injuries, and some policyholders may not even know they carry it. For example, Progressive's pet injury coverage will pay up to $1,000 toward vet bills and is included in the collision portion of a policy at no additional cost.
Auto owners may not consider pets when shopping around, trying to find what is the cheapest car insurance available, but including dogs and cats on policies can be inexpensive, and sometimes even free.
Dogs Injured While Outside of a Vehicle
If your dog was injured by a driver while not riding in a car, the injuries will probably not be covered since the likelihood that the motorist was responsible for the accident would be slim and hard to prove. Many jurisdictions have leash laws that prohibit owners from allowing dogs to roam free. If your dog were to dart out onto the road and get struck by an automobile, the driver is not likely to be held responsible. If this occurred where a leash law was in place, you could be considered the liable party and could be sued.
If a motorist strikes your unleashed dog and is in an accident that involves other people or property, you could be sued for the expenses caused by your pet, since you allowed the animal to run freely and contribute to the accident.
Additionally, your dog's injuries will often not be covered by your auto insurance policy if they occur outside of the insured automobile. Coverage that includes pets typically only pay if the injury occurs while a pet is in the vehicle. To have these costs covered, you would need to carry a separate pet insurance policy, which pays for a pet's vet bills.