Recovering Compensation for Injuries to Animals

Massachusetts courts do not allow for emotional distress damages to be awarded due to the death of an animal.  Therefore, if someone negligently and/or intentionally injures your animal, and you suffer emotional and mental injuries as a result, you will not be able to sue the person who injured your animal. 

Here is an interesting story coming out of Oregon provided by the Associated Press on this very topic:

AP) – PORTLAND, Oregon-An Oregon family seeking $1.6 million (€1.25 million) for the death of their dog cannot be compensated for loss of companionship, a Clackamas County judge ruled Tuesday.

The judge threw out the claim but will allow the jury to decide if the family should be paid for punitive damages and intentional infliction of emotional stress, The Oregonian newspaper reported on its web site Tuesday.

Circuit Judge Eve Miller said loss of animal companionship was not "a viable theory under Oregon law." She said there is no precedent for loss of companionship and that it was up to other courts or the state legislature to establish the concept.

The issue ended up in court after a 2004 incident in which a neighbor ran over Grizz, a 14-year-old cocker spaniel-Labrador retriever mix owned by Mark Greenup and his family. The dog was so badly injured that the family decided it would be best to euthanize the animal.

If the family had been successful in pursuing the loss of companionship claim, animal law experts said it could have radically changed the definition of the relationship between owners and their pets. But the judge’s decision is consistent with the centuries-old legal tradition of defining pets as property and measuring their economic worth by market value, instead of by emotional value.

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