Hitting a dog with your vehicle can be one of the most traumatic experiences you face. Hitting an animal — whether it runs into the road in front of you or whether you don’t notice it in time — can be frightening. You may feel terrible about injuring another living creature, and in some cases, a dog can cause a terrible car accident as you swerve to get out of the way.
Unfortunately, car collisions like this happen all too often in Las Vegas and across Nevada. If you’ve been in a car accident caused by a dog, there are several things you’ll need to do:
1) Stay on the scene.
Don’t leave the scene of the car accident and don’t leave the dog alone. Attempt to find help for the dog and find the owners. If you do not attempt to help the animal, you increase the risk the animal will face serious or life-threatening complications. You can help the dog by getting prompt medical attention for it. In addition, you can be charged with animal cruelty in Nevada if you hit a dog and don’t attempt to offer help.
2) Use caution when approaching the dog.
When you’re involved in a car accident with a dog, the dog may be injured and therefore aggressive because he or she is in pain. Always approach the animal carefully. Remove him or her from the road if at all possible. If the dog is still breathing, restrain the animal and take him or her to an animal clinic or veterinary.
Next, contact to the dog’s owners, if possible, so they can make decisions about their pet’s care. If the animal is aggressive and you cannot approach it to offer help, contact local animal services or call 911 and ask the police to transfer you to police services.
3) Get medical attention for the animal.
If you are able to get the dog to an animal or veterinary hospital, the vet can help you determine whether the animal has an owner. The dog may have a chip or tag that can help you identify the owner. If the owner decides to pursue specific types of treatment for the animal’s injuries, he or she will generally pay for medical treatment.
However, if the pet owner cannot be found, you may be responsible for medical care if you were the one to bring the dog to the vet.
4) File a claim.
If your car has suffered damages, or if you have suffered injuries because of the car accident, you may be able to file a claim through the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance liability policy. The dog owner in these cases is considered at fault, since pet owners are supposed to ensure their dogs are always properly restrained and not running on the road. If you cannot find the owner, your own insurance may pay under comprehensive coverage.
5) Be careful to document the situation.
If possible, take photos of the accident scene and get medical records from the veterinarian — including any testimony about the dog’s lack of a leash. Keep any pictures of car damages and any receipts for car repairs. If you do need to file a claim, you will want to be able to prove the car accident was caused by the dog and that you have suffered injuries.
Seeing a dog hit in a car accident is devastating, and being the person who hits the dog can be extremely upsetting. If you have been injured in a car accident caused by a dog running in the road, contact Dallas Horton & Associates. Our legal team in Las Vegas has more than 70 years of combined experience and we can help you with a consultation to review your situation.