Can we expect vet reimbursement from a dogsitterif our dog was injured because she was not properly supervised?

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Can we expect vet reimbursement from a dogsitterif our dog was injured because she was not properly supervised?

We boarded our dog at a business run out of a private home. This was the second time we had boarded our dog there. We brought our dogs crate and leash when we dropped her off on the 23rd. When my husband picked up our dog on the 26th, the woman said that Ruby had chewed her leash but that she had most of it. Our dog seemed out of sorts when she got home but we thought she was just readjusting to us. On the 28th, Ruby threw up a large section of leash. On the 29th, she started to act very sick and we took her to the vet. There, she was X-rayed and they saw a large mass in her stomach. $400. Later we were home with medicine to try to treat her. The next day, her condition worsened and we took her back to the vet where she was operated on. They removed large sections of leash along with yarn or a knitted item. The total cost of this was over $1,900. My husband called the woman to tell her that Ruby had needed surgery and asked her if she had insurance for her business. Her response was that she didn’t know our dog was a chewer. Our dog is not a chewer and has never been to any vet in the area for swallowing anything in the 4 1/2 years we have had her. Do we have recourse to collect a reimbursement for the money we spent because she was in her care?

Asked on January 1, 2012 under Business Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You could sue the dogsitter for negligence.  Negligence is the failure to esercise due care (that degree of care that in this case a reasonable dogsitter would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm).

In order to prove negligence, you will need to prove duty (of due care mentioned above), breach of duty (failure to exercise due care to prevent the dog's injury), actual cause, proximate cause and damages.

Actual cause means but for the dog being in the  dogsitter's care would the dog have swallowed the leash or yarn?  If the answer is no, actual cause has been established. 

Proximate cause means were there any unforeseeable, intervening events which would relieve the dogsitter of liability?  If the answer is no, proximate cause has been established.  If it was unforeseeable that the dog would swallow the leash or yarn, then the dogsitter would be relieved of liability.  If it was foreseeable that the dog would swallor the leash or yarn since those items were near the dog, then the dogsitter is liable.

Damages is the amount of compensation you are seeking in your lawsuit.  Your damages would be the total vet bill ($1900).  You can file your lawsuit in Small Claims Court.  Your damages would include the total vet bill plus court costs.  Court costs would include the court filing fee and process server fee.


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