Can I Sue Someone if Their Dog Caused My Car Accident?

Can I Sue Someone if Their Dog Caused My Car Accident?


Dogs are wonderful animals. They’re loyal. They’re fun. They make us feel loved even when it seems like the rest of the world has turned against us.

Unfortunately, dogs aren’t very bright when it comes to vehicles. Even the best-behaved dog can dart into the path of oncoming traffic. According to Animal Sense, it’s estimated that 1.2 million dogs are killed annually in car accidents. The problem is that many of these accidents result in serious car accidents which cause people to wonder if they can sue if a dog caused their car accident. Have you been in an accident? Reach out to a Memphis Personal Injury Attorney today.

Different Ways Dogs Can Cause Car Accidents

The most obvious way for a dog to cause a car accident is a dog running in front of your car and you accidentally striking the animal. While that’s the most common cause of car/dog accidents, it’s not the only way dogs can trigger an accident.

  • A dog runs into the road and everyone swerves, no one strikes the dog, but several cars side-swipe one another
  • A person is driving with their dog in their lap and has their vision momentarily blocked, leading to a head-on collision
  • A dog is left free to roam a car and bumps a steering wheel/brake pedal/gas pedal, leading to an accident
  • A dog runs out in front of your vehicle and you swerve, missing the dog, but hitting a tree.

Is the Dog’s Owner At Fault

Even though some of the rules surrounding dogs have changed, the one thing that has remained the same is that the owners are expected to maintain control of them. That means if they were letting the dog run loose, failed to have them properly leashed, or were driving while allowing their dog to behave in a way that put everyone at risk, you can file a civil claim against the owner and seek compensation for your property loss, injuries, and other losses you sustained in the accident.

What to do if You’re Involved in a Car/Dog Car Accident

Your priority following a dog/car accident is dealing with the aftermath of the accident. Do a quick assessment and make sure yourself and your fellow passengers are okay. If another car was involved, make sure they do not need emergency medical attention. Make sure your vehicle is in a safe position and that the gas tank hasn’t ruptured. Call 911 and report the accident.

Check out the dog. Does it need veterinary care? Can you easily identify the owner? If so, try to get their contact information while you’re still at the accident.

Seek Medical Treatment

If you or someone was hurt during the accident, your priority is getting everyone the medical help they need. Even if you think you’re fine, it’s in your best interest to get yourself to the emergency room and have a health assessment done. Sometimes the adrenaline from an accident can mask the symptoms of very serious injuries. The longer you wait to receive medical help, the harder it becomes to connect your injuries to the car accident.

Who is Responsible if a Dog Causes a Car Accident

In most states, dogs are considered personal property, therefore, if a dog runs into the road because the owner failed to properly control them and this leads to a car accident. Anyone involved in the accident has legal grounds to file a civil case against the dog’s owners.

In some cases, dog owners can also file a claim. Owners of dogs who were killed in accidents can file a civil claim against the others involved in the accident. This is to give the dog owner some financial compensation for incidents that resulted in the loss of a beloved pet that the dog didn’t cause.

Examples would include:

  • Pets that die in an accident, despite being safely restrained in the vehicle
  • Someone deliberately swerving into a yard just to strike a dog
  • Pets that are injured/killed in domestic violence incidents.

Contact a Car Accident Attorney Today

Not only are the laws surrounding how to establish who is at fault in a car accident that involves a dog complicated, but the circumstances surrounding the case are also often tricky to navigate, and the fact that many different insurance policies might be important to the case is why it’s not a good idea to attempt a civil case against a dog owner without a personal injury attorney by your side.

Contact Pickford Law, PLLC, and align yourself with a respected Memphis car accident lawyer who will not only help you understand how the law impacts your case but will also passionately defend your rights.