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My Dog Was Hit by a Car: Who Is Responsible?

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Collen Clark Published by Collen Clark

Schmidt & Clark, LLP is not currently accepting these types of cases and has posted this content for information purposes only. We encourage you to seek a qualified attorney, if you feel you might have a case.

Having your furry friend hit by a car is an upsetting experience. That's why you should know what to do and that the at-fault driver's insurance may cover the damages.

As a personal injury attorney that's handled many cases similar to this one, I can state with certainty that it's pivotal to know all sides of the story before moving forward with legal action.

Quick Summary

  • If your dog runs away and gets hit by a car, you may have to pay for the vet bills and any other costs. 
  • In many places, it is against the law not to keep your pet under control.
  • Most comprehensive insurance plans will cover any property damage that your animal causes.

What Should I Do if Someone Hits My Dog With Their Car?

An image of a woman attaching a leash to her dog at a sidewalkIf some hits your dog with their car and your dog suffers injuries or is killed, you likely have little recourse against the driver. The only exceptions to this would be if the driver hit your dog intentionally or if they were driving recklessly.

A domestic pet is considered personal property, so hitting a dog with your car is property damage in most states, leading to a criminal penalty.

If your dog runs away and is hit by a car, you may have to pay for the vet bills and any end-of-life costs. In addition, your insurance may include liability coverage which covers repairs to the vehicle.

According to state law (CGS $ 22-332), dogs must be restrained by owners at all times to protect others [1]. When a dog is hit after running into the street, it suggests that the owner broke this law.

Can I Sue a Driver for Hitting My Dog?

Yes, you can sue a driver for hitting your dog because there was damage done, and dogs are considered the owner's personal property. 

If the driver did stop to assess the situation with your domestic animal, you ought to be grateful for their kindness and their reasonable effort. You absolutely should not try making them feel remorseful, as doing so would only aggravate an already upsetting experience for them.

Who Is Liable for Hitting My Dog?

An image of a police cop talking to a car driverThe person who is liable for hitting your dog would be the reckless driver unless the negligence came from your side.

If the owner never filed a police report, they would have to accept responsibility.

In situations where you, unfortunately, hit your dog, it may be seen as an at-fault accident resulting in a collision claim.

Who Is Financially Liable for the Damage?

The person financially liable for the damage would be the driver if they were at fault. If the accident was due to negligence on behalf of the pet owner, then their insurance company may cover additional expenses such as veterinary bills.

The driver's car at fault will likely have extensive property damage after hitting a dog. Many comprehensive liability insurance plans will cover animal-inflicted damage.

What Should Happen if a Dog Is Hit by a Car?

A close up image of a pet owner checking up on her dog in the middle of the road

You can do a few things if a dog is hit by a car.

Tend to the Dog Right Away & Contact Animal Control

If a dog has been hit by a car, never try to move an unknown dog yourself or attend to the dog's injuries. 

If the situation absolutely demands it and there is no one around who can help, you should use a jacket or blanket to pick up the dog so that you can move them off the road carefully.

If you witness an animal being abused, do not leave the scene; immediately call the police or animal control to notify owners.

Related Article: Top 10 Most Aggressive Dog Breeds

Don’t Drive Away From the Scene & Contact Pet Owner

In most states, hitting a family pet with your car is illegal, and not stopping or notifying the local authority is. 

If you drive away, you could end up in legal trouble. If you do everything you can to save the animal's life, the owner will be held responsible for the accident instead of you. Don’t forget you need to notify the owners and inform them about the accident

"You have to call the police. The big issue is the failure to stop to render aid."
- Joseph Faughnan, Police Chief

In Case the Dog Dies

After hitting a dog with your car:

  1. Do not leave the scene.
  2. If the animal has died, move its body out of traffic and call either animal control or the local police department so they can remove it.
  3. When speaking to the dog's owner, try to be compassionate.

Even though there may be property damage, the person is likely grieving over their loss.

Costs of Veterinary Care

Image of an injured dog being treated by a veterinarianIn normal circumstances, the dog's owner is often legally responsible for the decision on the course of the treatment and for covering all the expenses.

If you cannot locate the owners, the cost can fall upon the person who brought the animal to the vet. 

Pet insurance gives you peace of mind knowing that you're covered if your furry friend gets sick or injured. Each insurer has different pet insurance policies, so be sure to check with yours for the specifics.

Vehicle Repairs

If you, unfortunately, hit your dog while driving, it may be seen as a collision caused by you and filed as an insurance claim. Your insurance company will then decide how to handle the situation by providing comprehensive insurance coverage.

Don’t Leave an Injured Dog Behind

If you find any injured stray dogs, you must help care for the animal. This may be difficult, but leaving the dog will only worsen its condition and could lead to legal penalties. Be courageous and comforting, and do what you can to save the dog's life.

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How Does Car Insurance Cover Hitting a Dog?

Car insurance covers hitting a dog by providing comprehensive coverage, which covers the damage done to your vehicle caused by the accident.

Which Animals Do You Have to Report if You Hit Them?

The animals you have to report if you hit them are domestic animals, such as a dog or cats. If you don't cease this activity, you will be charged with animal cruelty and notifying property owners of damage.

Who Pays for the Dog’s Injuries if I Hit a Dog With My Car?

If you hit a dog with your car, you will pay for the injuries if the owner can prove that you intentionally hit a dog. However, if the dog is running free and you hit it with your car, the chances are that the dog owner will be responsible for taking care of any medical bills.

Speak to Our Accident Lawyers in a Free Consultation

If you have been involved in a dog car accident, contact Schmidt & Clark, LLP for a free consultation session. We understand those car accidents can be overwhelming, especially when you don't know what to do next.

Our team of experienced lawyers is here to help guide you through your options and determine the best action plan for your specific case.