Understanding Loss of Pet Rights in Houston, TX
Brian White | July 18, 2015 | Personal Injury
Our pets are our babies, and losing a pet because of someone else’s negligence can be one of the most devastating situations we can experience. The loss of pet can cause mental stress, depression, and lasting emotional effects. There are some cases when seeking compensation for the loss of an animal companion is a possibility for you.
Laws vary based on state regulations and several other factors in the case. If the injury or death resulted from intentional harm, this would be considered a cruelty to the animal, which is a crime in almost every state. In Texas, the person who injured the dog could face up to a year in jail and $4,000 in fines for a first offense. Obviously, if the defendant is found guilty in a criminal trial, he or she will be liable in a civil personal injury suit.
Whether or not the injury was intentional, you may receive compensation for your dog’s injuries and/or death. Typically, you will receive the fair “market value” for the dog, but in some cases you may also recover damages for “sentimental value.” More common types of compensation are as follows:
- The cost for treatment of an injured dog.
- The market value to replace the dog.
- The sentimental value of the dog (in some states).
- Emotional distress suffered by you (the owner).
- Punitive damages intended to punish the responsible party. These are usually only awarded in cases where the injury or death of the dog was intentional.
Damage Types in Houston, TX for the Loss of a Pet
Treatment costs can vary, but courts will only award compensation for a “reasonable” amount. The market value of the dog will be based on the dog’s breed, age, health, training, usefulness, and special meaning to the family. For example, a show dog might be considered more valuable whereas the sentimental value of a dog is a more complex damage to assess. Some states allow for this damage, within limits, while others do not allow for it at all. Other states leave the decision up to the courts.
Unfortunately, the state of Texas does not allow for compensation of sentimental value; however, there have been incidences where plaintiffs have tried. In 2011, a young couple found their dog had been accidentally euthanized. The dog escaped a week prior and was picked up by a local shelter. Though the couple was scheduled to pick up the dog that day, a shelter worker accidently placed the dog on a euthanasia list. While a lower court in Tarrant County originally decided to award the couple compensation, the Supreme Court saw the case and overruled the decision.
In Texas, you are still entitled to compensation for veterinary treatment, and in some cases, you may be eligible for mental anguish damages. The abrupt loss of a pet can cause significant emotional distress, and any records justifying these effects would be admissible in court.
Experienced Houston, TX Personal Injury Attorney
Recovering damages after the loss of a pet can be a difficult process. Like all personal injury cases, you must prove some degree of negligence. Contact attorney Brian White if you have recently lost a pet and would like to seek damages. Brian White is based out of Houston, TX and can speak with you about your options for litigation.
Our firm has experience across a wide spectrum of personal injury practices. We approach each client with the utmost care and respect, and we treat each case as if it were our own experience. We provide effective representation and will help you prove negligence and seek damages for the loss of your animal companion.