Dog owners can recover the value of medical costs in a Negligence Action in Georgia.

Posted on: June 30th, 2016 by James Haug

Dog owners can recover the value of medical costs in a Negligence Action in Georgia.

In Georgia, when a person is injured in an accident due to the negligence of someone else, she can often recover money damages for her personal injuries, including her medical costs. If that same person passes away due to the negligence of someone else, her estate may have a claim for wrongful death. However, what happens when a pet animal is injured or killed due to the negligence of another?

The general rule is that an animal, even if it is a loving member of your family, is considered personal property, and if that animal is killed, the owner would only be able to recover the fair market value of the animal. A court will take the animal’s training, temperament, and use into consideration, when determining fair market value, but will not consider the value of the animal to the owner. Rather, it will only consider the value of the animal in a fair market.

In a recent Georgia case, the Supreme Court of Georgia still refused to allow dog owners to recover for their sentimental value for their dog, a mixed breed dachshund named Lola. The owners brought suit against a boarding facility after Lola died from kidney failure allegedly caused by the boarding facility’s negligence. The court reasoned that “the unique human-animal bond, while cherished, is beyond legal measure.”

The owners also sought to recover the value of the medical services provided to Lola. They spent nearly $67000 on Lola’s medical care at a specialized animal hospital in Florida for a period of nine moths before Lola passed away. The boarding facility argued that recovery should be limited to the fair market value of the dog, but the court held that, in addition to the fair market value, Lola’s owners could also recover for the reasonable value of medical expenses they incurred while trying to save Lola. The court held that the jury could consider the reasonableness of the medical treatment and costs in determining how much the owners could actually recover.