For many, pets are members of the family. Thus, their death can be exceptionally painful and heartbreaking–especially when it’s caused by the negligent or wrongful act of another.
Thankfully, the law provides legal recourse if one’s dog or pet was negligently killed by another person. In most cases, however, what can be recovered from a potential lawsuit is not nearly enough to compensate for the heartbreak of the loss.
Most frequently, the law (Ohio law included) categorizes pets as personal property and only allows the plaintiff to recover in the amount required to replace the animal itself. For those seeking justice for a beloved pet’s death, this can be frustrating and disheartening. An increasing number of courts, however, are now taking into consideration the pain and suffering experienced by pet owners following the death of their pets. While this sounds promising, it should be noted that many courts do not acknowledge such emotional damages.
If your animal has been wrongfully killed, before you bring a lawsuit, it is important to consider what your potential recovery may be and if it will outweigh the cost of retaining legal counsel. To calculate your potential recovery, in addition to taking into consideration the cost to replace your animal, consider the following: whether it was a mixed or purebred animal, veterinary expenses incurred over the course of the animal’s life, and any specialized training the animal may have received.
If you decide to proceed with a lawsuit, an experienced lawyer will inform you of your state’s laws and how they apply to your particular case as well as the strength of your case. He or she will also explain the potential avenues for compensation you can take such as a criminal lawsuit (most applicable if the killing of the animal was intentional and malicious) or a civil lawsuit (if some degree of intent or negligence was involved). Another option is to bring a lawsuit in small claims court–a beneficial option for those who cannot afford a lawyer or those who want to settle the dispute quickly.
In short, if another’s negligence has caused the death of your pet, know you have legal grounds on which to recover. And while it may not be sufficient to compensate you for the emotional damages you have personally suffered, it may satisfy your need for justice. You should call a law firm which regularly handles cases involving negligence, such as the law firm of Obral, Silk & Pal, LLC. We’re here for you if and when you need us.