Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Handling Personal Injury Claims in the Seattle Area and Throughout Washington Since 1995

My name is Chris Thayer and I am a personal injury attorney practicing in downtown Seattle. I handle personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death claims throughout the greater Seattle area, including Issaquah, Mercer Island and Kirkland.

I am here to help you.

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Negligent Pet Care in Washington

Posted Friday, March 9, 2018 by Chris Thayer

Pet owners often regard their furry, feathery, or scaly companions to be members of the family. Under Washington law, pets are considered property. This legal classification can make it difficult for owners seeking compensation for negligently injured or wrongfully killed pets. While Washington allows personal injury lawsuits for damage to personal property and owners can sue when their pets are injured by negligent conduct, pets are not treated the same as humans under the state medical malpractice law.

Animal cruelty, however, is a crime that can be prosecuted in Washington. Conduct that rises to the level of first-degree or second-degree animal cruelty may be evidence of negligence or reckless conduct that pet owners can use in a personal injury lawsuit.

*Pet Negligence and Veterinary Malpractice Cases*In April 2017, a dog owner left her Papillon with a pet sitter for Rover, a Seattle-based pet-sitting company. The dog, one-and-a-half-year-old Snoopy, died while in the pet sitter’s care. The owner recently filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging that the sitter’s negligence caused her dog’s death. Specifically she says that the company did not properly vet its sitters and that her dog died because the sitter did not have adequate fencing, which resulted in Snoopy wandering into the road and getting struck by a car.

While she seems to have a viable claim against the company, whether or not her lawsuit succeeds and what damages she may receive remain to be seen. Unfortunately, in some cases pet owners are not entitled to the same extent of damages as they might receive if the injured or wrongfully killed party was a human.

For example, in September 2012, a pet owner’s veterinarian advised him to take his 12-year-old dog to the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine’s teaching hospital. There, the owner’s Alaskan Malamute, Kaisa, was diagnosed with metastatic cancer and given months to live. The owner agreed with the WSU vet’s recommendation that Kaisa be put down. But according to the owner, WSU messed up the euthanasia. He filed a lawsuit against the college and the attending veterinarian, alleging that Kaisa was not sedated properly and suffered a painful death.

Both the trial court and the appeals court struck down the owner’s request for emotional distress damages, but Chief Judge George Fearing of Washington’s Division III Court of Appeals wrote a concurring opinion (a concurrence is not binding case law) “to advocate a change in the law.” He wanted the Washington Supreme Court to rule that pets are emotionally valuable and that medical malpractice standards should apply to them. But the state Supreme Court declined to hear the case, which means that Washington’s medical malpractice law still only applies to people.

*Contact Us Today*Contact one of our personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation if your pet was injured or killed because of negligent care or veterinary malpractice. Our experienced attorneys will examine the facts of your case, help determine your best legal options, and help recover the compensation that you deserve.