If I hit a dog with my car, am I liable for any vet bills?

I was driving uphill at approximately 10-15 mph. I saw a woman walking a white dog to my right. I slowed my vehicle not only because of this, but because I was coming to a stop sign. I also moved over to the middle of the road for the woman. Then I noticed the dog was not on a leash when it darted towards my car. I stopped suddenly to avoid the dog, but I hit it with my tire. I did not run it over. I accompanied the woman to the vet and cried the whole time. I felt terrible. She says I am responsible for the bills. Is this true?

Asked on August 20, 2012 under Accident Law, Alabama

Answers:

Leigh Anne Timiney / Timiney Law Firm

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

I am very sorry to hear about this.  It was very nice of you to even accompany the dog and owner to the vet.  No, you are not responsible for the vet bills.  When we are off our property with our dog, we as dog owners are completely responsible for the control of our dog at all times.  I am not sure from you question whether or not the dog was simply not on a leash at all or whether or not the dog got away from it's owner.  Either way, the dog owner is responsible for controlling her dog.  If she was walking the dog without a leash, this is likely negligence per se, meaning she is likely in violation of a local statute or code, as most municipalities have leash laws that require dogs be on a leash in public at all times.  If the dog was on a leash but got away from her, she is still responsible.  You were not breaking any traffic laws and were acting reasonably and prudently under the circumstances.  I am sure you feel horrible, but this was not your fault and you are not legally responsible.  Good luck.  


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