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No one wants to think about their animal companion being killed or hurt. But if this happens, you may be able to recover “damages,” or monetary redress.

This is a broad overview intended to be useful to caregivers of animals who have been injured or killed. It is not a substitute for an attorney.

The amount you can receive will vary depending on a number of factors. The particular facts and circumstances of your case are important. Additionally, the law regarding compensation for a companion animal’s death or injury varies from state to state, and is in flux.

Here are some basics:

  • By and large animals are considered “property” under the law. This means that in many cases, you are limited to compensation for your animal’s “market value,” along with associated “economic damages” like veterinary bills.
  • In recognition of animals’ elevated places in our homes and lives, a growing number of states now also allow greater awards than economic damages. In these states — including Tennessee, Illinois and New York — you may also be able to receive noneconomic and punitive damages in some cases, such as if the person who harmed your animal did so on purpose.
  • Damages relating to emotional distress are sometimes available as well.

Your lawyer can best advise you as to the law in your state, regarding compensation for an injured or killed companion animal.

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