Most animal lovers think of their pets as more than just property. They are part of the family. And they often travel in the car just like any other family member. Unfortunately, these loved ones face injuries or death just like any other passenger in the event of an car crash.

The death of a cat, dog or other pet can be traumatic. Unlike property, a beloved dog, cat or horse cannot easily be replaced. However, South Carolina law does recognize the importance of such a devastating event and allows you to be compensated for your pet’s injuries or death in a car accident.

Applying Insurance to Car Accidents With Pets

Your insurance or the at-fault driver’s insurance could provide coverage for your damages when a pet has been hurt or killed in a car crash. This insurance may include uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.

The insurance claim will classify the incident as property damage. If a negligent or reckless driver is to blame, you have the right to pursue compensation for veterinary bills and other costs. These charges could be significant, depending on the severity of the circumstances.

However, South Carolina law does not view a domestic animal’s injury or death as cause for damages related to pain and suffering. This is because the state regards pets as property. Although South Carolina permits fair compensation for the loss, the emotional aspect of this type of case is not a factor.

The courts in this state will consider the replacement value of the pet, which includes its breed, pedigree and any profit you may have garnered from this companion. In the end, the court will assign a cost to purchase a similar pet and award subsequent damages.

Keeping Your Pet Safe in the Car

It’s natural to want to bring your pets with you on trips, especially when you’re going away overnight. However, you shouldn’t overlook the fact that pets can be a dangerous distraction. Furthermore, an unrestrained cat or dog could get lost or run away after an accident

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, there are things you can do for your pet’s protection. These include:

  • Keep your pets in a crate or carrier. Wire mesh, hard plastic and soft-sided carriers are all valid options for making sure your cat or dog is safe and secure. Choose a carrier that is large enough for your pet to move around in freely.
  • Provide a light meal before the trip. Give your pet something to eat three or four hours before the drive. Don’t feed your pet during the trip, even if you’re on the road for hours.
  • Never leave your pet alone in a parked vehicle. In the summertime, a car can turn into an oven. Conversely, in the wintertime, the cold weather can make your automobile frigid and freeze your pet to death.
  • Always have your pet’s travel kit on hand. Whenever you travel with your pet, be sure to have its vaccination papers, food, bowls, leash, plastic bags, grooming supplies and any medication. Also, don’t forget to bring a favorite toy or pillow so that your pet feels at home in your car.
  • Make sure your pets are identifiable. Be sure they are microchipped, wearing collars that include their names and have your contact information clearly imprinted on the tags.
About the Author

Since 1968, the South Carolina personal injury and workers’ compensation attorneys of Joye Law Firm have been committed to securing compensation for accident and injury victims. Our compassionate and dedicated lawyers have over 300 years of combined litigation experience, and many of them have been recognized as South Carolina Super Lawyers. For many years, our South Carolina personal injury law firm has been listed with an AV rating in the prestigious Martindale-Hubbell legal directory.

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