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FAQ Friday#3 - Uninsured Motorist and death of a pet

Matt Dubin Washington State personal injury attorney back for my third installment of FAQ Friday where I answer your questions about personal injury insurance claims or really anything having to do with lawsuits injuries claims I'm here for you I love the questions that have been coming in and I encourage anyone who sees this to ask me any questions that you've got share these videos with your friends frankly anyone who drives or uses the road can use this information and I want to be a resource for you so whatever's on your mind let me know and we'll get your questions answered so let's get right to it we've got two questions this week that I'm going to address the first question is from Priscilla who asked what do I do if I'm in a car accident and the other driver doesn't have insurance and this is one of my favorite topics to talk about because although Washington law requires that everyone have at least $25,000 of liability insurance the sad reality is that something approaching 20% of drivers on the road in Washington have no insurance at all I'll take it even one step further because of those who do have insurance almost half of them have the minimum required by law in Washington which is 25,000 and that's fine if you have a little fender-bender and a very minor injury but for most cases your damages could exceed $25,000 very quickly very easily and so what do you do well you could sue the uninsured person and try and get a recovery from them and there are procedures to see what assets they have and to have the sheriff or the police seize their assets seize their bank accounts you could try and get the money that way the reality is it takes a really long time and it hardly ever works so even if you get a judgment against the uninsured person you're not very likely to see any of that money in the future the second and much better alternative is for you to have uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage through your own auto insurance now in Washington they come together if you have one you have both and it's called um uim and you can get that in any amount up to the amount of your liability insurance so if you have five hundred thousand of liability insurance with your auto insurer you could also have five hundred thousand of uninsured underinsured coverage and that will act as if it was the insurance for the other driver the uninsured driver or the underinsured driver and now that being said they'll fight you just as if they were the other drivers company so they'll try and dispute it was their fault they'll try and dispute you were really hurt they'll dispute that your treatment was reasonable they'll dispute the value of your pain and suffering that's just what they do their insurance companies they're in it to make a profit so even though in the situation like this you'll be making a claim against your own insurance company under your UIM coverage it still is essential that you have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side someone who knows what your rights are and is prepared to defend them and fight to get you the recovery that the law says you're entitled to because the insurance company will try to avoid paying you that if they can and if you don't have a lawyer it's likely that they'll get away with it so I hope that answers your question Priscilla thanks a lot for asking and the next question is a difficult one and it comes from Billy and Billy asked a friend asked me about what remedy exists for when another dog comes on your property and attacks and kills your own dogs can a dog be considered part of the family for emotional damages so I have a dog in two cats and I've had animals due to accidents due to the carelessness of others and so this this is an issue that has personal significance to me and I've done the research and this is a field of law that I think is changing around the country but right now for the most part the Washington approach is the majority approach around around the country which is that your pets are considered property and if someone is careless and it results in injury or death to your pet to your family pet that you're entitled to the monetary value of that animal so if it's a purebred and it cost five hundred or a thousand or two thousand you may be entitled to that you might also be entitled to consequential damages which are additional you know vet bills cremation expenses costs involved with initial vet bills vaccinations and initial vet bills for a replacement animal and that's how the law in Washington generally treats the loss of a pet that if it was just carelessness like somebody didn't properly tie up their dogs and they come into your yard and kill them that's all that the law will give you and this was affirmed in a in a Washington State Supreme Court case in 2004 exactly that situation a person's dog was mauled by someone else's dogs and the court specifically said that the loss of companionship could not be extended to cases within involving the death of a dog now there is an exception to this rule in Washington which is if the injury or death of the pet is a result of malicious injury malicious misconduct so in other words if someone intentionally harms your pet then the Supreme Court said that the court could consider the emotional distress of the pet owner so right now in Washington if someone is careless and it results in injury or death to your pet no the only damages you're entitled to is is the replacement value of the pet unless you can show that the injury or death was the result of some kind of malicious misconduct in which case you might be able to recover something for emotional distress in addition to the financial value of the pet I hope that this law changes in the future I think the law should recognize that companion animals pets cats and dogs and others are important parts of people's family and that they provide tremendous intangible benefits that you can't put a monetary value on and that if someone is careless and that that results in the loss of a family pet then you should be entitled to get a recovery for that or at least have a jury determine whether your and your family's emotional distress is worth something I think that is the trend that we're seeing in other jurisdictions and I think that's something we'll see in the future here in Washington and across the country so that's it for today's FAQ Friday for Priscilla and for everyone out there make sure you have uninsured motorist coverage and really get as much as you can afford there are too many uninsured drivers out there and the only real effective way to protect yourself is to make sure that you have high limits of uninsured motorist coverage no one else is going to do it for you you need to do it for yourself and for Billy I'm so sorry about your friend's loss of his family dogs there's no amount of money that can make up for that and as I discussed right now his only remedy would be the replacement value of the dogs sadly and as I said I hope that changes so that's it this is my third episode of FAQ Friday I hope you are enjoying it and appreciate appreciating the answers to your questions and it looks like Eric Heller hi Eric good to see online for anyone who has questions or know somebody that might if you have kids that are driving or you're walking around or taking mass transit if you have questions about your car insurance personal injury claims of any kind just let me know put it in the comments and I'll address it in a future FAQ Friday and so from me and everyone here at the Dubin Law Group be safe enjoy the rest of your summer and I'll see you next Friday on FAQ Friday thanks a lot.