If someone has hurt or killed your dog, you may be able to bring a civil suit against them for damages. However, there are a number of extenuating circumstances that can affect the viability of your case. Here's what you need to know:
1. Anti-cruelty laws can help your case.
Many areas have anti-cruelty laws, and if the person who hurt or killed your dog violated these laws, they may be held criminally responsible. For example, if someone stole your dog from your yard and tortured it, they have committed animal cruelty in most places. Depending on the case, they may receive fines, jail time or other punishments. In addition, they may be ordered to compensate you for your loss.
However, regardless of whether your area has anti-cruelty laws, you may want to work with a personal injury attorney to bring a civil suit against the person who hurt your dog. A civil suit addresses your loss even in the absence of criminal guilt.
2. "It was an accident" is not a legal excuse.
In many cases, if someone has hurt your dog, they may declare that it was an accident. This excuse does not always hold up in a court of law. For example, imagine someone ran over your dog and claimed it was an accident. However, they were texting at the time of the accident. As a result, they were not paying attention to the road, and they were negligent. In a personal injury lawsuit, negligence can be key to establishing culpability.
3. Comparative negligence may come into play.
Your lawyer will argue that the party who hurt your dog is negligent, but their lawyer, in turn, will try to show that you were also negligent. This argument can take a lot of different angles. For example, if your dog was roaming free and your county or city has laws against that, your negligence may be partly responsible for the dog's death in the eyes of the court.
As a result, you may only receive a portion of the damages to which you may otherwise be entitled.
4. Damages for injured pets can vary.
If you have lost your dog, the damages you may claim can vary drastically. In some cases, you may be able to get the other party to cover the veterinary costs as well as the cost of replacing the animal. In some cases, you may even be able to recoup training costs. For example, if you lose a working dog such as a sheepdog, a hunting dog or a trained assistance dog, you may be able to pursue the costs associated with training that dog in court.
In some cases, you may even be able to get damages for your pain and suffering. For example, imagine you have a companion animal to help with your PTSD. It was a highly trained dog and expensive to replace. However, losing the dog caused you more trauma and exacerbated your PTSD. As a result, you incurred bills from your mental health professional. Stories like this can help increase the chances that you may get compensated for pain and suffering or mental anguish.
5. There are cases where it is legal to kill a dog.
Unfortunately, if your dog was killed under certain circumstances, you may not have recourse to bring a suit against the killer. The laws vary from state to state, and it is critical to consult with an attorney to assess the laws in your area.
For example, in many areas, it is legal to kill a dog who is harassing livestock. In other areas, it is legal to shoot dogs who roam free. In most cases, it is legal to kill a dog in self defense.
Wondering if you deserve compensation from the loss of your dog? Contact a personal injury attorney, such as those at Charles Aaron PLC, today. These professionals work with all aspects of personal and property injury, and they can help you protect your rights and pursue damages.