We live in Alexander City, Alabama. A lady hit our puppy that I had let out to go potty. I thought he was under our truck in the driveway. He unfortunately had went under and out the other side to the road. The lady clipped his back end. She stopped and went to get some vet wrap and betadine. I use to be a vet tech. Is she liable to help me pay for a vet if I need to take him?
This is a bit tricky. If your puppy had caused damage to the woman’s car or caused some other damage, you could be liable because domesticated pets who leave your property and cause damage may open you to strict liability. This means that you could be held liable regardless of how reasonable or responsible your actions were. The law is a little less consistent when it comes to a pet who get injured after escaping your property. Your puppy is considered your property under the eyes of the law. This means that it may be possible to sue someone for negligent or intentional conduct when that conduct causes harm to your puppy. It doesn’t sound like intentional harm was an issue here, so you would have to consider whether the woman was negligent in your puppy. The general rule is whether the woman was acting like a reasonable person under the circumstances would act. For example, if she was speeding, or on her cell phone, or otherwise driving irresponsibly, you may be able to prove she was negligent. You may be able to seek damages, which in this case would be the cost of the vet care. If, however, the woman was driving reasonably, and she hit the puppy because she could not reasonably avoid hitting him, then she cannot be held liable under a negligence claim. Even in the best of circumstances, this could be a very difficult argument to win, and the amount you could claim from the woman would most likely be capped at the actual vet bills and/or the cost of replacing the puppy.