If a speeding driver talking on his cell phone struck and killed my dog, am I liable for damages to his car?

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

If a speeding driver talking on his cell phone struck and killed my dog, am I liable for damages to his car?

My family recently moved to a new house and the 2nd evening of living in our new house, our beloved dog was let out of the yard by a visiting child and she ran out onto the street where she was struck by a speeding car. The police were unable to determine the car’s speed but all the witnesses stated that the driver was speeding and talking on his cell phone while driving without a hand held device. Also, the police officer noted that my dog was struck on the lower right bumper of the mustang but rolled underneath the car. He did not write of any damages to the car in the police report. My dog died

Asked on March 24, 2012 under Accident Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The answer is you could be. Even if the driver was at fault, if you--or your guests--were at fault, too, in letting the dog loose, then it is possible that you might be partially responsible. California is a "comparative liabilty" state--that means you compare the two parties' respective degree of fault. To oversimplify for the sake of illustration: if it is determined the driver was 70% at fault for taliing on the cell phone, but your family was 30% at fault for your dog getting out. If the damage to his car was $1,000, you could potentially be liable for $300.

You could also sue him for the death of your dog; you could look to recover any final vet bills, cremation costs, and the cost of the dog. Say that came out to $500. If he is 70% at fault, he could be liable for $350--which, if netted out with the above, would put you $50 ahead.

The specific facts are critical to a case, so there is no way to be certain, from what you write, what the outcome would be, but the above illustrates the general principals at work.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption