We live in a time when having pets and treating them like family has never been so popular. In fact, there are claims that more money is spent on pets today than on children. Alongside this phenomenon is the desire to bring your pets with you everywhere you go. Unfortunately, that can become a problem if the pet is unrestrained in the vehicle and causes an accident in Washington State. Like kids, they can be very distracting, but unlike kids, they cannot be easily controlled if unrestrained. Pets escaping their yard can cause accidents as well, and sometimes these accidents are more damaging because motorists swerve to miss them and then end up colliding with another vehicle.
At Law Offices of Paul L. Schneiderman, our auto accident attorney in Washington State will review and investigate your case in either situation: where it was your pet that allegedly caused the auto accident or if someone else or their pet caused the accident and harmed you and/or your pet. Contact us today at 206-464-1952 to schedule a free consultation and to learn more about your legal options.
How Pets Can Cause Car Accident Claims in Washington State
Unrestrained pets in a vehicle can interfere with a driver operating a car and cause accidents requiring an insurance claim.
Some examples of this include where a pet:
- Gets into the driver's footwell and steps on the accelerator or brakes
- Jumps onto the driver and startles them
- Climbs on the driver's lap
- Cries to get their owner's attention
When a pet interferes with your driving, it can cause an accident where your car rolls over or collides with another car, cyclist, pedestrian, or object.
Pets may also escape their homes and run onto the road into oncoming traffic. When this happens, there's a risk they will be hit by a car or cause an accident when a driver tries to avoid hitting them.
Common Injuries from Car Accidents Involving Pets in Washington State
If you're in a car accident involving your pet, the range of possible injuries is the same as in most other accidents caused by distracted driving, intoxicated driving, speeding, carelessness, weather, among other things. In accidents involving pets, you can sustain head trauma, whiplash, fractures, and bruising. Serious accidents caused by pets can also sometimes result in fatal injuries.
In addition to any injuries you sustain, your pet can also be injured. Fractures, lacerations, and internal bleeding are common injuries in pets involved in motor vehicle accidents. Especially if they're unrestrained, pets can also be killed in car accidents.
As well as these physical injuries, both you and your pet may suffer emotional trauma following an accident.
If your pet is injured as a result of a motor vehicle accident, you should take them to a vet as soon as possible, or ask someone else to take them if you're injured and need medical assistance.
Liability for Car Accidents in Washington State that Involve Pets
Liability for car accidents involving pets is complex and depends on the circumstances of an individual case as well as the state where it happens.
It is often mandatory for you to restrain your pet while in a car. So, if your pet causes an accident while unrestrained, you are typically liable. However, if your pet is injured as a result of the negligence of another driver, they may be liable instead.
Owners of pets who escape and run onto the road causing an accident are often responsible for any damages to the other person's vehicle on the basis that they are required to keep their animal secured. Remember that though most of us view our pets as family members, laws in most states still treat pets as property, and as such, the owner is responsible for the damage caused by their property.
Remedies in Washington State for Car Accidents with Pets
Remedies for car accidents involving pets are usually sought through an insurer.
Many collision insurance policies include coverage for pet injuries, as the law considers them the property of the owner. However, there can be limitations to this. For example, the insurance may only cover specific types of animals and only up to a certain amount. If you are a pet owner, you know that vet bills can quickly become exorbitant.
If the other driver's negligence caused the accident and you live in an at-fault state, you may be able to file a third-party claim with their liability insurance.
Some car insurance policies require you to purchase additional pet coverage, so it's worth reading the terms closely to understand what it does and doesn't cover.
If your car insurance doesn't cover your pets, you could consider taking out other protection, such as pet insurance.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in Washington State Today
At Law Offices of Paul L. Schneiderman, our auto accident attorney in Washington State will guide you through the claims process to ensure you get the compensation you deserve for any car accident caused by another person and/or their pet. Contact us today by filling out our online form or calling us at 206-464-1952 to schedule a free consultation.