Monroeville, PA asked in Animal / Dog Law and Personal Injury for Pennsylvania

Q: While walking my 8 year old blue merle collie on a leash my dog was struck by a vehicle-street was clear when crossing

Car came out from side street when we were already crossing. Struck my dog, I got pulled down backward by the dog leash. I screamed for person to stop. She never looked up. My dog was able to get up an get across street. I ran after her. Person stopped briefly and left. I got make/model/color of car. Later was able to get license plate. Knew dog was injured. Called police and took dog home and met police at home. Dog had major surgery at specialized vets AVETS. So far $6,133.00. Both insurances have had incident reported. Can this be pursued criminally or civilly or both?

2 Lawyer Answers
Michael H. Fienman
Michael H. Fienman
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: Your case can be pursued both criminally and civilly.

With respect to criminal prosecution, it is not your decision whether charges are filed. The local police department that responded to your call and the district attorney for the county in which this incident occurred have complete discretion when it comes to prosecuting the case. To the extent the matter is prosecuted, make sure that the police are aware of the costs incurred at the veterinarian. You may be able to obtain reimbursement through restitution if the driver is ultimately convicted.

As far as civil prosecution, you may initiate a claim. However, it does not sound like you are claiming any personal injuries, but rather injuries to your dog. Although dogs are highly regarded animals in our society, Pennsylvania law classifies them (and pets in general) as chattel or personal property. To the extent that you maintain a claim for your dog's injuries, it would be for property damage and expenditures related to the repair and rehabilitation of the same.

Additionally, based on your query, it does not sound like you have a description of the driver. This is an important evidentiary issue that will need to be considered before initiating any civil or criminal proceeding. I'm glad that you have a good description of the vehicle, but that does not necessarily establish who was driving at the time of the incident.

Thanks for posting your question.

Peter N. Munsing
Peter N. Munsing
  • Wyomissing, PA
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: As Atty Fienman notes the degree to which there is a traffic violation and what charges are made are up to the police and DA if it's a felony charge.

You have a civil case. Your medical bills for the fall and resulting treatment would be covered by your car insurance (no deductible, no copay).

You have a claim against the other vehicle for your injuries and those to your pet. If you need PTS therapy, you may want to look into EMDR. Google "psychology today EMDR therapist __________________ Pennsylvania" (insert name of town) to find a therapist.

I would advise against giving a recorded statement until you've spoken with an attorney. We provide free consultations so that people can speak with an attorney before talking to the adjuster.

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