You take your pets to a licensed veterinarian because you trust that they have the education, skillset, and compassion to properly treat your pet’s sickness or injury. Unfortunately, even the best vets can be negligent and make poor choices. If you believe that negligent medical care caused injury or harm to your pet, you should immediately contact one of our veterinary malpractice lawyers.
The Animal Law Firm has years of experience fighting for the underdog. Our animal rights attorneys have successfully represented over 300 animals and pet owners in a variety of cases in Colorado, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Our attorneys know how much your pet, service animal, or working animal means to you. Your furry friend isn’t just a companion; they are a member of the family. We fight ethically and responsibly to get you and your pet the justice you deserve.
Veterinary malpractice cases are very similar laws to medical malpractice cases, except that the victims of veterinary malpractice are animals. Veterinary malpractice occurs when a medical provider harms or causes injury to an animal because of carelessness, incompetence, or a lapse in judgment.
There are many types of veterinary malpractice cases. Some of the most common are:
Though mistakes are frustrating, they don’t always mean that a lawsuit is necessary. If your animal is harmed or their condition worsens after medical treatment, it does not automatically constitute negligence on the part of your veterinarian. To be categorized as veterinary malpractice, your vet must have:
It doesn’t matter if you are seeing the vet just for a routine examination; you should always ask the vet for your pet’s records after each visit. Keep your pet’s records at home in a safe place in case you may ever need them for any reason.
This can allow you to have a reliable history of your pet’s treatments should a problem arise and prohibit the vet from making changes or alterations to their records in the event of a claim. If you suspect your pet may be the victim of veterinary malpractice, immediately request all and any records your vet’s office has. You should also write down what you remember about any visits, or conversations with your vet.
Under no circumstances should you leave your pet with the veterinarian you suspect of malpractice. If your pet is still in their care, immediately reclaim them as soon as possible without posing a risk of further injury. Once you reclaim your pet, be sure to take as many photos as possible.
Have your pet examined by another veterinarian, and keep records of their findings. In the unfortunate event that your pet is deceased, have a necropsy performed. A necropsy can help discover and provide evidence for the cause or manner of your pet’s death. Another veterinarian should conduct this and not the one you suspect of malpractice. When it comes to coordinating the transfer of the body, the other veterinarian can assist with an overview of options to do so, even if the body has been frozen.
If you suspect your veterinarian of malpractice, you should always contact a reputable animal legal defense attorney that you trust. Attorneys can help you discover if your veterinarian has had any previous claims of veterinary malpractice filed against them. Animal rights attorneys can help you contact an outside veterinarian to ask them to take an overview of your pet’s medical records and compose an opinion letter regarding the treatments or procedures the vet in questions performed. They can advise you on the likelihood of a successful claim, guide you on the next steps to filing one, and provide you with a list of options to take to seek justice for you and your pet.
To be successful in your claim, you need to provide evidence that your veterinarian did not perform their job to a reasonable professional standard and that their failure to do so resulted in the harm, injury, or death of your pet.
Evidence can include:
Your pet’s veterinary and medical records.
Phone calls with your veterinarian or their office staff, and conversations you had during a visit.
Photographs of your pet’s injuries.
Your vet has a responsibility to provide professional skill and care while treating your pet. If you believe that your pet was harmed, injured, or killed on behalf of a negligent or untrained veterinarian, it can be worth taking legal action against them. If you believe you can provide evidence that proves your veterinarian committed malpractice while treating your pet, you should contact the Animal Law Firm attorneys for a consultation.
Typically, it is recommended that you file a claim against the vet in the case of high medical expenses. Taking action in a veterinary malpractice case can end up being extremely costly due to the nature of the case. Your attorney will need to get the veterinarian in question to sign an affidavit, or a written statement admissible in court, which states that they did not meet the normal standard of care in the situation involving your pet.
If your attorney is able to receive a signed affidavit from your veterinarian, it is likely that the vet’s insurance agencies will work as hard as possible to ensure that the case does not make it to court. It is very typical for the veterinarian’s insurance company to file multiple motions to get your claim dismissed from court. It is not uncommon for the insurance company to try to negotiate a settlement at this point in proceedings.
In the event that your claim survives the motions put forth by the veterinarian’s insurance company, it will still be a lengthy process. There will be extensive medical investigations to undergo, witnesses to prepare for deposition, and additional hearings to attend before your claim makes it to trial.
Our legal team can assist you in recovering the damages you deserve from the veterinarian. It is most common to be awarded damages for any medical expenses that were acquired while your pet was in the veterinarian’s care or the expenses that they charged you unnecessarily.
In our practice states, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, your pets are legally considered your property. If your pet has died as the result of veterinary malpractice, you can be awarded damages in the amount it would cost to replace your pet at a reasonable, fair market value. Basically, the amount it would cost you to currently replace your pet. If your claim does succeed, you will be entitled to recover damages for the veterinarian expenses, and/or the value of your pet. Occasionally, you may be able to recover damages for any loss in income you experienced due to a result of excessive or frequent vet visits.
At The Animal Law Firm, we know that pets aren’t just replaceable. For most of us, they are not property; they are part of the family. Being a victim of veterinary malpractice is traumatic for both you and your pet. Unfortunately, because of the laws of the state, receiving compensation for emotional distress or your loss of companionship is not very likely.
Before filing a claim, it is also a good idea to take into consideration any laws that may be protecting your vet as well. Most states have a typical statute of limitations or the maximum amount of time you have to file a legal complaint against another party, of about 1-3 years when it comes to veterinary malpractice. If you wait until the statute of limitations has expired to file your claim, you will not be able to seek damages from the veterinarian in question.
In some cases, veterinarians are also protected by Good Samaritan laws. If a veterinarian has provided care for your pet with emergency treatment outside of their office, like a car accident, they will be protected from the law unless their actions fall under that category of gross negligence. The actions that your veterinarian took must have been so blatantly reckless, or knowingly disregarded the safety of others, for your claim to be admissible in court.
If it does not make financial sense to sue the vet you believe to have committed veterinary malpractice, there are other steps our animal rights attorneys can take to help you receive justice. The veterinarian in question mustn’t cause further harm to animals in the future.
Sometimes, as an alternative to a veterinary malpractice claim, it is possible to make a claim for negligence against the vet. For example, if your pet did not receive enough food or water while in the veterinarian’s care, or if your pet was left in a position where they were easily able to escape. These cases would not fall under the definition of veterinary malpractice, but you can seek damages from the vet or their office employees for negligence when it comes to the care of your pet.
If your pet was injured, harmed, or even killed by a medical device that was used during their treatment, but the veterinarian or staff used the device at a correct professional standard, it may be worth inquiring about a claim against the product manufacturer.
We encourage clients who do not want to undergo a claim to report their veterinarian to the right authorities. You can file a complaint with the Department of Regulatory Agencies. Filing a complaint will get the attention of the right agencies, who can perform investigations into the veterinarian in question’s practice. Depending on what the investigation finds, the vet can receive disciplinary actions, including fines or a suspension of their license to practice.
Even if the investigation does not result in any disciplinary action for the vet in question, your complaint will remain on record in the event that another individual chooses to take action against them in the future as well.
An animal rights attorney can also assist you in crafting a letter of demand from the veterinarian’s insurance company. This can help you recover monetary damages from the veterinarian without filing a claim and engaging in the lengthy legal process.
If you want to get justice for your pet and seek the damages you deserve, representation from an animal rights attorney is essential. Veterinary malpractice lawyers are skilled in their practice and know the ins and outs of animal law. They have the experience necessary to approach a variety of cases and can confidently represent you and your claim.
Malpractice cases can be very complex and full of medical jargon that can be hard to understand. The Animal Law Firm has successfully navigated many veterinary malpractice cases and helped clients file various complaints. If your pet has been the victim of veterinary malpractice, contact us for a consultation today.