This is not a metaphysical blog about whether or not dogs go to heaven. As a Weatherford personal injury attorney, that issue is far above my pay grade.
Rather, this article is about what compensation is available in these situations, and who is legally responsible. This problem comes up a lot. Commonly, repair people unintentionally let animals out, and they run away. Other times, veterinarians or other specialized caregivers make serious errors. In other instances, owners find pet caregivers on apps like Rover, and these caregivers negligently injure the animals.
According to a recent media survey, fourteen North Texas pet owners said their animals died while under the care of an app-based pet sitter.
In car crash cases which involve property damage, like a destroyed automobile, most victims are entitled to the financial and emotional value of that property.
But in pet injury situations, that's normally not the case. Texas law generally limits recovery to the pure economic value of the animal. So, unless the animal was an expensive purebred dog, the recovery may be almost nothing, regardless of the dog's emotional value.
There are some exceptions. If the animal was a stage cat or another revenue-producing pet, the owner may be entitled to the lost revenue. That exception does not come up very often.
Additionally, owners in these situations may be able to file negligent infliction of emotional distress claims. These lawsuits allow the victim to recover economic and noneconomic damages even if the victim did not suffer a physical injury.
NIED claims are extremely difficult to win in Parker County. Nevertheless, a particular claim may have substantial settlement value. Sometimes, the responsible party is willing to pay damages in exchange for a confidentiality agreement.
Third Party Liability
So, in terms of legal action, justice is usually more important than compensation in these situations. Many pet owners want the responsible party to face the music in court. In Rover and other app-sitter cases, this approach usually means going after the app owner.
Theoretically, the respondeat superior rule probably applies. The app owner controlled the pet sitter in terms of work availability, and the sitter's duties were definitely within the scope of the sitter/app owner agreement.
However, the app owner is probably an out-of-state company with considerable funding. Therefore, there will be a big fight in federal court. So, if you want to go down this road, fasten your seat belt, because it will be a bumpy ride.
If your pet dies prematurely, you have some limited options. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Weatherford, contact Herreth Law. After-hours visits are available.