If A Dog Caused Your Car Accident, You Could Receive Compensation From The Owner

Posted on: 16 December 2016

A dog ran out in front of your car and caused you to swerve to avoid it. As a result, you got into an accident that totaled your car and caused personal injury. Can you pursue a lawsuit against the owner of the dog in this case?

Leash Laws Often Dictate Your Response

Leash laws vary heavily based on the state and these often dictate the nature of your case. For example, it is illegal in Oklahoma for dog's to wander freely in counties that have more than 200,000 residents. The dog is considered "running at large" and any problems they cause are likely to cause a liability problem with their owners.

This applies to any type of negative behaviors the dog performs, including running out in front of your car and causing an accident. The idea here is that the owner was negligent by refusing to leash their dog properly and that this negligent action cause the accident.

Dow Owner Negligence Must Be Proven

Hitting the dog is often not enough to prove that the dog owner was being negligent. For example, the dog may simply have escaped the yard and caused your accident without negligence by the owner. As a result, you need to actually prove negligence in this case to receive any compensation. There are specific behaviors that indicate dog owner negligence, including:

  • Failure to leash the dog properly while on a walk
  • Not maintaining their backyard leash, allowing it to break
  • Refusing to leash the dog after it shows a pattern of chasing vehicles
  • Leaving a gate or door open that allows the pet to escape the yard or home

Using eye-witness testimony to prove this negligence is vital to protecting your rights and getting compensation for the accident. Make sure to talk to people in the area who witnessed the accident or friends of the family who can testify that the owners behaved negligently.

Beware Of Comparative Negligence Claims

Even if your lawyer can show, with a preponderance of evidence, that the dog owner was negligent and that their dog contributed to your car accident, the owner may still have a trick up their sleeve. A common defense in a case like this is to argue comparative negligence. This is the idea that both participants were negligent and that your negligence outweighs theirs.

For example, if you were driving too fast for the zone when you hit their dog, they may argue that your speed was the deciding factor. This is especially true if your accident occurred during a bad weather situation. Driving too fast for the conditions is typically proven by the accident: if you had been driving slowly enough, it is argued, the accident wouldn't have happened.

While nobody in this type of case is likely to be happy with the outcome, especially if the dog was injured, it is important to pursue it to its fullest end. Contact a professional like Loughlin Fitzgerald P C to learn more.