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Pets are family. Whether it’s a big derpy dog, a cat that gives everyone but you the cold shoulder, or a hip-hop-loving dancing bird, we love our pets as if they’re our children. According to the Humane Society, nearly 70% of American households have at least one pet. We can’t stress enough that car accidents happened when least expected. It’s important that when you’re operating a motor vehicle with your pet in the car, that you do everything you can to maximize their safety

As the world becomes more pet-friendly, many of us drive around with our pets in our vehicles. Whether we’re going on a road trip to the beach or down the street to our favorite dog-friendly restaurants, pets have become 300% more mobile over the last 16 years

How does Texas law view pets?

In Texas, pets are viewed as property. In other words, if your pet was injured through unintentional harm, you will receive compensation for your pet as you would any other property damaged in the car accident. In fact, a 2013 opinion from the Texas Supreme Court said, “the human-animal bond, while undeniable, is uncompensable.” 

Common types of pet compensation include the following: 

  • Cost of treatment for injuries
  • Market value to replace the pet
  • Potential punitive damages

In Texas, the required minimum auto insurance for every driver is at least $30,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per person, $60,000 in bodily injury per accident and $25,000 in property damage coverage. That $25,000 in coverage is where your pet’s veterinary bills for car accident-related injuries would come from. However, the other person’s insurance will only cover your pet’s damages if their insured is at-fault for the car accident.

How is the market value of a pet determined?

Courts will generally only award compensation that is a “reasonable amount” when setting the market value. In Texas, courts will take the following into consideration when determining market value: 

  • Breed
  • Age
  • Health
  • Training
  • Usefulness
  • Special meaning to the family

Still, if your pet was hurt or killed in an auto wreck, it’s important that you speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Many of us at The Carlson Law Firm are pet owners ourselves—we know that losing a pet can lead to unimaginable pain. Recovering compensation for the loss of a pet is a difficult process and, in Texas, it can be an uphill battle. It’s important that when you are going through the recovery process of securing payment for your medical bills, vehicle repair or replacement, or anything else related to your crash, that you have a legal team who takes everything into consideration.

How to keep your pet safe in your vehicle

Research indicates that Americans spend $41 billion every year on their pets. It might be difficult to give up letting your dog poke her head out of the window (because let’s face it, it’s adorable), but allowing your pet to do so is actually really dangerous. Not only is a loose pet in the cabin of your vehicle a distraction to you, but unrestrained pets involved in car crashes can become projectiles in the event of a crash. 

If you can’t leave Maddie at home, consider the following to keep your precious furry cargo safe: 

Restrain your pets

There’s no question about it, seatbelts save lives and the right kind of seat belt may save your pet too. Cars were not designed with pet safety in mind. 

Tether crates

If you are involved in a car accident, crates can become projectiles. 

Ensure restraints are crash-tested

There are hundreds of pet harnesses on the market for car rides. It’s important that you do your research to ensure your pet is in the safest harness for your needs. Remember, costly doesn’t always mean best.

Often, the opposing party’s insurance company will try to shift blame to you for the car accident. A loose pet in the vehicle can give the insurance company a number of reasons to blame you for a crash. By securing your pet, you’re ensuring an attorney will be able to build the best case possible to maximize the value of your claim.

We care. We can help.

No reasonable person ever gets in their vehicle and expects to be involved in a car accident. This is especially true when we load our pets up for an outing. However, when you are involved in a crash, an injury lawyer can help you through the negotiation process if the insurance company is refusing to offer a fair settlement—that includes the market value and veterinary bills for your pet. 

Contact a car accident lawyer to help you secure financial compensation for the following: 

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Vehicle repairs
  • Vet bills
  • Emotional pain and suffering
  • And more

The Carlson Law Firm’s attorneys will be able to determine what you’re entitled to after a crash through a free consultation. Our car accident lawyers are available 24/7.

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