What to do if my 80 year old neighbor is being sued by motorcyclyist who was speeding and killed her dog?

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What to do if my 80 year old neighbor is being sued by motorcyclyist who was speeding and killed her dog?

The dog was on a lesh being held by neighbor. However, the loud noise from the speeding “crotch rocket” as they are often referred to scarred the dog and the dog took off into the street. Which in turn caused him to loose control of bike. Neighbors estimate the driver to be going 60-70 mph down a city street with posted 30 mph sign. Police took report etc. Can she sue driver for loss of pet? If she looses case and he is awarded damages how does she pay? Homeowners insurance?

Asked on August 14, 2012 under Personal Injury, New York

Answers:

Leigh Anne Timiney / Timiney Law Firm

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

This is a very sad situation.  It is possible both your neighbor and the driver of the "crotch rocket" may both have claims.  Your neighbor may have a claim for loss of her pet.  I know this sounds crazy to anyone who is a pet owner, but in most states pets are considered "property" and their value is only what they are worth if they were to be sold.  For all of us who are pet owners, I realize it is hard to understand this, as pets are so much more to us than property.  With respect to the driver's possible claim against your neighbor, when you are outdoors with your pet, you are responsible for maintaining and keeping control of your pet at all times.  Technically, your neighbor could be liable for damages the driver of the motorcycle suffered as a result of her dog running out into the street.  Although, I think your neighbor can make the argument that the motorcycle driver has contributory or shared negligence, meaning he is partly to blame for the incident, in view of the fact he was driving at an unreasonable speed, was out of control and as such contributed to the dog being startled and running into the street.  If the driver of the motorcycle makes a claim against your neighbor, it is likely her homeowners insurance could help her with this and if that happens she should make a claim with her carrier.  Good luck to your neighbor.  


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