What to do about an insurance claim made against be wrongfully?

My dog was recently struck by a car and killed by a driver who was not the owner nor had a driver’s license. he was also cited for speeding and lying to police. I received a bill from their insurer for $1200 for the damage. Am I liable. There is a leash law in my county but the dog may or may not have been in my yard. The driver landed in my drain ditch which is 6 to 8 ft in my yard.

Asked on September 21, 2011 under Accident Law, South Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

There is no simple answer, since it depends on the facts. If the dog was in your yard, then clearly the owner cannot hold you liable for the damage to his car--he drove into your yard! which shown right there his own negligence; and at the same time, you were doing nothing wrong (or negligent) by having your dog in your yard. Indeed, in that case, you could possibly sue him for the value of the dog.

However, if the dog ran into the road, you might be liable: you would have violated the leash law, and more generally been negligent by having your dog be uncontrolled and get into the road. However, if the driver was speeding or otherwise driving negligently, that could then mitigate your liability--e.g. at least reduce what you'd have to pay--since his negligent driving would have contributed to the accident. In short, the facts in a situation like this determine liability, and there are scenarios where you completely liable; completely not liable; or possibly partially liable.

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