In Alabama, we take protecting our pets seriously. If someone purposefully hurts your dog or cat, that person can face both civil (having to pay money) and criminal (having to do jail time) punishment.
Now the bad news. Though you might see Fluffy and Booboo as members of the family, the state of Alabama does not. They are considered property. It may be hard to hear, but the harm done to them is no different than if someone damages your lawnmower.
Here is how it works.
If your pet is injured, you can collect the “costs of repair.” That means the cost of returning your pet to its condition before the accident or assault. Basically, this means that you can get the veterinary bills paid.
Since your pet is considered property, you can also go after payment for any value reduction. For example, if your dog loses an eye, you can be awarded money for the loss that represents. It is called “diminution of value.” You must calculate the value of the loss and put a dollar amount to it. I know that sounds cold-hearted, and for that reason, you might want a lawyer to handle the negotiations.
Now I have one other awful truth. If your pet is killed, you can only sue for the pet’s market value. A good lawyer will argue the unique qualities, such as training, but no amount of good lawyering can get you compensated for your suffering and loss of companionship. I don’t think that is fair, but it is how the system works.
I have long been a pet owner and know how they improve our lives. I also want to see the person who would hurt an animal pay.
If you suffer a personal injury like an auto accident, railroad accident, wrongful death claim, or slip and fall, you can talk to us at the Law Firm of Eiland and Ritchie for free. We want to help you get back on your feet.
Also, join us on NBC 15 LawCall here in Mobile every Sunday night at 10:30, right after the news. We will take your calls live. We are experimenting with new ways to do the show and still follow the CDC guidelines. You might want to see what we are doing.