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dog got hit by a car, post-accident drama, what to do ?
  • wufanwufan
    Posts: 78
    This is something that happened to a friend recently. I think I know the standard 'protocols'. Don't let your dog off leash in the first place, call the cop etc. But when something happens like this, I wonder what I would do if we were involved in such an accident.

    So my friend's dog got hit in November last year. She accidentally let her door open and her dog ran off to street. She and her husband actually were after chasing him and saw what happened. I was not there so I could not give the best details. But according to her, the car on scene clearly drove over speed. It was a nice suburb area with many homes. Although there was no speed sign it should be 15m/h. The driver got off her car and claimed there was a dent/ scratch to front bumper and asked for repair. They called the cop and had a written report. My friend agreed to pay $500 to the driver. It was a 1 inch long scratch (almost to not visible) and a small dent on the front bumper. Anyway the dog was frightened but turned out to be fine (physically) out of a check from their vet. Thank god.

    But it's not over. Just two days ago (over 4 months after the accident), that driver called again and claimed that she replaced the bumper from the damage and asked for another $1500. That person called a few more times. My friend did not know what to respond and asked for advices. I told her it was clearly a scam and she does not need to respond to that person or if she keeps calling her, call the police. Now what will happen if they go on a small court? Since the police has a report and the dog owner holds liability for her unleashed dog?

    It's disheartening to hear something like that. My friend is a 'dog' person and she is also very mellow and would like to stay out of any trouble. At some point she wanted to pay that person that money but I think she definitely should not. I guess my question is what we should do if our dog gets hit by a car. My Shiba had successfully escaped twice when he was a pup but I was not in that bad luck. For a situation like that now, what's the best advice I could give her?

    [mod edit: changed category]

    Post edited by sunyata at 2014-03-05 14:05:51
  • BootzBootz
    Posts: 3495
    Errm...Ok. # 1 - did your friend paid the first $500 in cash or with check? It is always better to play with something that they can keep a record of and prove to the court.

    #2 Its not like they were intentionally walking their dog offleash, he escaped.

    Honestly, if i was in your friends situation, I would not have paid the car owner. Even if there is no marked sign with speed limit, clearly they should have not been going fast enough to hit the dog, especially since it sounded like it was a residential area. If it escalates to a small courts, then I would just show up, explain how the dog got loose, and everything was accidental and not intentional. Your friend probably would have paid less, or nothing at all since the "scratch/dent" was barely noticeable.

    Tips for owners would be

    #1 take pictures of the car
    #2 take pictures of your dog
    #3 call police to document on paper
    #4 discuss with the car owner to see if you can settle this outside of the court
    #5 If needed, take it to small courts
  • AWE46M3AWE46M3
    Posts: 357
    Body work ok a car can be very expensive, especially because there can be instances of damage that are not easily spotted without removing parts. I've had two bumpers replaced on my wife's car for very, very minor accidents where she was not at fault and both times the repairs were around $1,700. If the car had additional scratches, then 200-200 for removing the dent and paint correction would be possible.

    That said, what was the basis your friend had for making the original payment? The did other person have a repair estimate? Did your friend make the other party sign something saying the payment represented a final settlement for the incident?
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8588
    Okay... From a law enforcement perspective:

    If this were to happen, then there should be a police report written if the locality requires it. (In Virginia, if the projected property damage meets or exceeds $1500 or if there is an injury/death a report is required.) If no report is required, then the officer will provide both parties with an exchange of information form.

    The purpose of the exchange of information form is so that both parties have identifying information and insurance information for the other party involved. At this point, whomever is at fault (if it is a multi-car crash) contacts their insurance company to start the claims process. In the event that the at fault party (as determined by the officer on scene) was not in a vehicle or is uninsured, then other party will need to contact their insurance company or take liability for their own property damage.

    In this instance, if the at fault party would like to compensate the other party to pay for the damage, arrangements can be made at that time. However, it is always recommended that an estimate be retrieved by a licensed auto body shop before any money is exchanged. The suggestion that we often give citizens is to pay the shop directly, not the damaged party. This prevents most issues from arising.

    In the event that the at fault party is not willing or able to compensate and the damaged party wants/needs compensation, civil litigation will occur and it will be up to a judge to determine faults/payments.

    In the event of an uncontrolled domestic animal (dog, livestock, chickens, etc.), the animal's owner is at fault unless there was gross negligence on the other individual's part. It does not matter if it was the animal was uncontrolled due to an accident or if it was intentional. A good example of this is a cow escaping from a fenced pasture and a vehicle hitting it while legally driving down the highway.

    As for the speed limit issue... I am unaware of any state that has a 15 mph residential speed limit, especially if unposted. In most cities and towns in the U.S. the speed limit is 35 mph unless posted otherwise. Therefore, I highly doubt that the maximum safe speed would have been 15 mph unless there were other factors present (i.e. snow, ice, fog, etc.).

    ETA: This should be in no way taken as legal advice. If you would like legal advice for your personal situation, please contact a lawyer in your state of residence (or the state of the litigation).
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
    I Wander, I Ride
    Post edited by sunyata at 2014-03-05 15:35:55
    Posts: 189
    Agree with everything @Sunyata said! I think you should make that post a sticky.

    However, Your friend is now in stages beyond the info above.

    Unfortunately the fact that she paid $500 means nothing especially without a written agreement for what it was for. Doesn't matter if it was check, cash, or Money order. The Plaintiff can state that was for misc damages (ie. pain and suffering, lost wages, repair estimate costs etc). If the police has already put your friend at fault, there is a slim chance any judgement will be in their favor in court. Especially if they show a repair bill of 1500. If your friend decides to take the matter into civil court then its very easy for the car owner to go to a more expensive repair shop and get an estimate, charge for court costs, legal advice (if permissible), pain and suffering (if permissible), lost wages from work or business etc. It is very likely that your friend will loose the case. This is why parties at fault usually settle before going to trial, it is cheaper to pair a sum than to go to court.

    They should get a drafted letter and mail to to the victim (as deemed by the police) certified stating something along the lines as we agree to pay the 1500 in damages and you will consider this matter resolved with no further claim to any additional damages, monetary or otherwise. This letter would need to be notarized and signed by the victim claiming damages. Then no matter what they do your friend wouldnt need to pay more than 1500. The victim would then have a hell of a time taking them to court for it, also at their own expense, and not your friends. ... I can get my friend (Personal Injury lawyer) to send you an example of the letter if you would like. just PM me.
  • CaliaCalia
    Posts: 3664
    Personally, I would have your friend consult an attorney and see what they advice. States have different laws and procedures when it comes to these sorts of things, so asking on a forum with people from other states and many not having any sort of legal background, there is a good chance that some of the advice given could be wrong for your area.
    Post edited by Calia at 2014-03-05 16:18:55
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8588
    I agree with @Calia... If it were me in that particular situation, I would consult with an attorney in my area who can provide me with appropriate legal advice for the area in which I live.

    I apologize if my post sounded like legal advice, it was not meant to be advice for this particular situation, but more of a guideline for what to do if this were to happen in the future.
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
    I Wander, I Ride
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 4786
    If they paid $500 and the person took the money and walked, than deal concluded IMO. It took FOUR months to notice and make additional repairs that were not assessed at the time of the accident? Sounds fishy.
    "Common sense isn't so common"
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  • ddavidddavid
    Posts: 94
    If the gal has Homeowners insurance, they should take care of everything required.
    How fast was the car travel ling ? And at which point did the dog make contact with the car? You mentioned front bumper. That to me tells me that the car exceeded the speed limit. Most residential areas in my state, California has a 25 mph speed limit which is apple to stop when a kid runs out to get his ball. My Shiba just last week got loose and ran straight up the middle of the road. And it was dark, late evening. The driver saw him, slowed down and diverted around him. Even though it was the girls responsibility having a loose dog, it also the drivers responsibility to obey driving speed and be alert in a residential neighborhood.

    For one, the driver should have received an estimate of total damages within a reasonable time. Which he did not. He can't come back 4 months later. And secondly the agreed on damage was $500.00 that is a verbal contract if not a written contract which should have absolved any and all discoveries, unless specifically specified in the contract as being otherwise. She doesn't owe anymore money. The man waited too long. And it was also his mistake to agree that $500 was sufficient to cover costs.

    At this point she should still demand a SHOP estimate, and past estimates. At LEAST 3 estimates. So can't come back later. I dunno, Attorney are expensive, I'd weigh Attorney costs over settlement costs. Or she can simple refuse to pay anymore claiming that both parties have settled. I doubt that he will hire an Attorney for a small sum of $1000 and probably, if any, will take it to Small Claims court. She can rebuttal and make a good case, and even counter sue for any amount paid over $500 the original settlement, claiming a good reason why she made another payment.
    A bit too lengthy to get into "How to prepare a Small Claims Court Action." The court cost are minimal, set by county, and runs around $75.00 (Small claims has a maximum amount which can be sued for.) Don't forget picture is a huge plus, pictures of everything, dog, road, car, as many as one can. Any contracts entered into, both verbal and written, If verbal compose a written from memory.
    Post edited by ddavid at 2014-03-05 19:49:32
  • LMSpostLMSpost
    Posts: 91
    Where does the owner of the car's insurance come in here? If I were your friend I would find more about their coverage and wether or not they reported it to their insurance co. Today I was talking to my insurance agent and they mentioned if I were to hit a deer and damage my vehicle it would be covered under comprehensive. This makes me wonder if the same goes for a domesticated animal.

    For example, let's say the dog was hit and the owners were not near by and there was no way to identify the owner... the car owner would be responsible for the repairs or would be making a claim to their insurance company. I don't see how the pet owner should be responsible for any repairs, I am actually surprised the car owner got any money at all out of your friend. If anything, I think paying their deductible would be the most I would think should have been paid.

    Post edited by LMSpost at 2014-03-05 21:24:16
  • Kira_KiraKira_Kira
    Posts: 2482
    So heartbreaking to hear that a person's dog was hit by a car and that driver then turned around and demanded money from the owner! That is just an utter lack of compassion, in my opinion. I can't say that I would be of sound mind and could even possibly make a good decision under these conditions, even if my dog got a clean bill of health.

    After a little thought on this matter, I think that the most logical thing to do is request that the driver contact their car insurance company on the matter and take the matter up in court. I think the initial issue is that it sounds like the owner agreed (at the scene with the officer present?) to pay the driver $500. Immediate admittance of guilt and transferring of funds with no type of legal parties present to say otherwise was a mistake - everything is heresay. The issue should have been brought to the officer's attention to have the driver contact the insurance company and possibly make any requests for deductible reimbursements in court. Since it sounds like the damage was merely cosmetic, it would be pointless for you to have the pay the damages since it did happen while the driver was operating it - that's what car insurance is for. If they REALLY want to have it repaired, that is the appropriate avenue that they should logically and ETHICALLY take. If they don't want to deal with the possible rate change in insurance because of an incident, then they should just take the cosmetic damage as a loss. It's unfair to demand that the dog's owner pay for the damage. What if it were a deer? Who covers that damage... the car insurance. Use it.
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  • good advice all around. If it were me, I would have flat out refused to pay, and they would have to go after me legally to get me to pay. You hit my dog, and you demand I fix your car? I don't think so. Whether it is legal to do so or not, I'd make it very difficult for the person to get money out of me.

    And I agree--if they took $500, the deal is done, even if it cost more.

    But now, given how this has been handled, it is probably best for the person to either get an attorney to deal with it, or to have them deal with her homeowner's insurance, who would cover something like this, usually.

    (Our speed limit in our neighborhood is 15. Not that people drive that, but it is posted all over).
  • Kobe1468Kobe1468
    Posts: 1590
    Got this off a auto insurance site.

    What about repairs to your vehicle?

    Physical damage repairs after hitting an animal is covered under car insurance by comprehensive coverage. If the animal is a dog, the claim could be handled a little differently. In most states if a comprehensive claim is filed due to hitting a dog, the insurance company will subrogate the claim by going after the dog's owner. If you cannot locate the owner, you must have comprehensive coverage on your vehicle for your car insurance to cover the damage.

    The dog's owner is said to be at-fault or responsible because the dog should not be in the road for starters. The dog owner's homeowners insurance policy would actually pick up such a claim under its liability coverage. Typically liability claims do not have a deductible, however a claim filed against a homeowners policy is sure to be surcharged at renewal. If you do not have comprehensive coverage, you can go directly to the dog owner's home insurance carrier to file a claim for repairs of your vehicle. The owner will have to admit responsibility if a police report was never filed.

    *i agree that no money should have been paid up front, and the car owner should have ran it through her insurance(if she had it). But since she took the money, thinking it would end any further claims.

    So glad the dog is alright!
    "Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."
  • wufanwufan
    Posts: 78
    My friend did pay with a check and she should have evidence of that payment. They did not sign any written document. It was only verbal contract. My friend was in shock and was in no mood of negotiating. Her No.1 concern was the wellness of her dog. It's gated residential area for 200 clustered homes. The speed limit is 15m/h. I seriously doubt anyone could have hit a dog like that. But again I was not there. I am also interested in knowing what was on the police report that day.

    Thanks for all good advice. I am forwarding this to my friend. And for sure she should be the one to make the decision. Whether it's consulting an attorney or simply ignoring the request. I know it's very unfortunate. By the way, her dog is a small size GSD (by small he just past puppyhood and weighs less than a normal GSD). I think she was more happy to find out the dog was okay.

    I may update it later.
  • AWE46M3AWE46M3
    Posts: 357
    Calia said:

    Personally, I would have your friend consult an attorney and see what they advice. States have different laws and procedures when it comes to these sorts of things, so asking on a forum with people from other states and many not having any sort of legal background, there is a good chance that some of the advice given could be wrong for your area.

    This is the best answer. Too many anecdotal responses when you post something like this on the internet; my initial response included...

  • omgtainomgtain
    Posts: 68
    Once money changes hands, then there is no going back. That is why sometimes court cases take forever, you can't say there is $500 in damages, then four months later say there is an additional $1500. Once the person accepted the check, the deal is done. She is lucky there was a check, because that means there is a record of payment.

    I'd tell her to lose their number.
  • ddavidddavid
    Posts: 94
    Tort laws are pretty much the same in all states, they come from old English Law (Great Britain). And Auto Insurance company comprehensive follows the same too. Since this is Homeowner's dog, Homeowners insurance covers this incident. What does change are premiums, coverage deductibles, and amounts that can sued under small claims.
    That's why I suggest not getting an attorney involved due to the expense. $500 per hour can add up really fast into 10's of thousands. Speaking from experience. That's also why insurance companies will settle with the plaintiff even when the defendant is not at fault, plus the fact a jury is unpredictable (in larger cases than this one - of course.) Insurance companies want to close a claim ASP because of hidden liabilities.
    Also in this case the burden lies with the defendant (the dogs owner) up to the point of settlement $500 paid. Thereafter the burden lies with the car owner to proof the verbal contract was other than stipulated.
    If were her I'd contact my Homeowners insurance anyway to have a record and receive free advice. And thereafter simply wait it out until you hear from the plaintiffs attorney, if any. This is really not so complicated at all since it doesn't involve personal injury, although there is nothing to prevent the plaintiff to add personal injury up to a year later from the date of accident. That's really the worst nightmare scenario to keep in mind.
    Post edited by ddavid at 2014-03-07 02:09:16

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