In our last blog post about car accidents, we discussed some instances where someone else could be held liable for your single-vehicle crash. While these accidents are more commonly caused by products liability issues, like a defective car part, occasionally a car accident will be caused by a loose pet, like a dog or cat. In these instances, the pet owner can be held liable even if they were not on the scene and even if they tried containing their pet.
How Pets Can Cause Car Accidents
Pets usually create personal injury situations when a dog bites someone. However, dogs and cats and other domestic animals, like horses and cows, can cause car crashes as well. This often happens when the animal gets loose and runs into the street. Drivers often have to swerve to avoid the animal, and their evasive maneuvers can cause a single-vehicle accident or hit another car. If they fail to avoid the animal, the driver can get hurt or their car can get damaged, especially if the animal was a large one.
Missouri Laws Prohibit Pets Running at Large
It should come as no surprise that state and local laws in Missouri prohibit pets from running around unrestricted or unconfined. Missouri Statute 270.010 covers farm animals across the state. Dogs are covered at the local level. For example, Section 5-93 of the City Code of Ordinances for St. Joseph makes it unlawful for people with dogs to let them off the property of the owner without a leash. Violations are criminal offenses.
Failing to uphold their obligations under these laws exposes animal owners to liability for problems that their pet or livestock caused.
Homeowners or Renters Insurance Covers Losses
Should an animal cause a car crash, people who have been hurt or who have suffered property damage from the wreck can recover compensation from the liability provisions in the owner’s homeowners or renters insurance.
This is especially important for victims to know because many accidents caused by pets running into the road happen in the victim’s own neighborhood. In many cases, the victim knows the animal or its owner. That personal connection can make victims hesitant to file a claim or pursue a lawsuit for compensation.
Because the payout comes from insurance coverage, though, the pet owner generally will not have to pay anything from their own pocket to resolve the claim – unless the accident was severe and the insurance policy limit is reached. Additionally, unlike car insurance policies that can get more expensive if policyholders are seen as risky drivers, homeowners and renters insurance policy premiums generally do not increase after accidents like these.
Car Accident Lawyers at the Smith Law Office Serve Victims in Western Missouri
The car accident lawyers at the Smith Law Office legally represent victims in St. Joseph, Kansas City, Springfield, and the rest of western Missouri. Contact them online or call their law office at (816) 875-9373.