Can You Recover Damages for a Pet Injured in an Accident?

Yes, under certain circumstances, you can recover damages for a pet injured in an accident. New Jersey law allows people to file civil lawsuits seeking money damages for the injury or death of certain animals in specific situations. A New Jersey car accident attorney can evaluate your case and help you pursue the negligent party for compensation for your losses.

Types of Animals Covered by the New Jersey Statute 

The New Jersey statute that allows a person to seek money damages for a pet who gets injured or killed in an accident applies to these categories of animals: 

  • Any pet dog or pet cat normally maintained in or near the owner’s household 
  • Any service animal or guide dog 
  • A search and rescue dog 

If you own such an animal, you may sue the party that harmed it. You do not have to be the sole owner. The statute gives the right to seek compensation to any person who has a right of ownership in the animal. 

Negligence Versus Intentional Acts 

The statute applies to animals that get injured due to negligence, also called carelessness. Let’s say that your dog was riding with you in your car when another person crashed into your vehicle. If your dog got hurt in the accident, you can sue the at-fault driver. 

The law also applies to people who intentionally harm animals covered by the statute. If someone commits an unlawful and intentional act that harms your pet, you can hold that person liable. 

Types of Damages Recoverable in the Lawsuit

New Jersey law provides a wide range of compensation for the owners of pets who get hurt or killed due to the negligence or intentional acts of others. The statute allows you to seek these damages in the lawsuit: 

  • The monetary value of the animal 
  • The veterinary bills 
  • Any other expenses the owner incurred trying to remedy the harm to the animal 
  • The animal’s pain and suffering 
  • The owner’s emotional distress 
  • The cost of any specialized training of the animal, if it was a service dog, guide dog, or search and rescue dog
  • Non-economic damages up to $5000, to compensate for the loss of the companionship, love, affection, and society of the animal

The statute specifies that the available damages are not limited to the items on this list. 

Statute of Limitations 

Every state limits the amount of time a person has to file a lawsuit. These deadlines are called statutes of limitations. The length of the statute of limitations varies depending on the type of case. For example, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit might not be the same as filing a breach of contract case. 

You only have two years from the date of the injury or death of the animal to bring a lawsuit against the person who intentionally or negligently harmed your animal. If you miss the deadline, you will forever lose the right to seek damages from the at-fault party. Negotiating with the defendant or insurance company does not extend the deadline.  

A New Jersey personal injury attorney can answer your questions about recovering damages for a pet injured in an accident. Contact our office today.