Damages Regarding Injury to or Theft of Assistance Animal.
What happens when your service animal is killed by another dog or person?
Damages to a Utah Service Animal. Utah Code Ann. 78B-3-701 (2021)
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Was you service dog attacked, injured or killed by another dog or person in Utah?
Utah has a specific statute awarding attorney’s fees when you have to sue to recover damages from your service dog being injured or killed. Very rarely in personal injury or property damage lawsuits or claims does the plaintiff injured party have a chance to be reimbursed their attorney fees.
The Utah and American rule on attorney fees that you can only recover attorney fee in the following types of cases. (1). Contractually, the prevailing party is awarded attorney fees. (2). Bad faith insurance claims. (3). Bad faith, vexatious filings. (4). Specifically by statute, as is the case here in service animal statute of Utah Code Ann. 78B-3-701 (2021).
What is the Utah Damages to a Service / Assistance Animal Statute?
The Damages from Injuries or Death to a Service Animal was enacted in 2008 by the Utah Legislature.
The statute gives a private cause of action for damages to service animal owners:
(1). Against a person who kills, injuries or steals a service animal, or
(2). Against the dog owner who dog or animal kills, injuries or steals a service animal.
What Damages are Recoverable in a Claim under the Damages to a Service Animal Statute in Utah?
(1). Attorney Fees. The prevailing party in an injury lawsuit in Utah is 99.9 percent of the time not allowed to recover their attorneys from the offending party. Allowing the injured plaintiff to recover attorney fees is a huge benefit for people bringing claims under this statute.
(2). Economic Damages. Economic damages are also called special damages and must be plead specifically in your lawsuit charging document, called the complaint. Special damages are mileage to and from the veterinarian, veterinarian bills, temporarily paying for a replacement animal to cover down when your service animal is recovering. The replacement value of the service animal and the statute goes a step further by specifically stating that the replacement value is “the replacement value of an equally trained service animal, without any differentiation for the age or experience of the animal.” The common insurance defense argument is that your particular service dog was old and only had a few more working years left and therefore less value should be attached. Like an old car. Just not worth that much.
(3). General Damages. This is pain, suffering, inconvenience and just plain dealing with not having a working service animal in your life.
You can read here generally about types of damages in an injury case.
UTAH PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY JAKE GUNTER
Utah Dog Bite Attorney Jake Gunter regularly handles Utah Dog Attack cases, Dog Bite cases and insurance claims against homeowners insurance companies for reimbursement for injuries caused by dogs TXT / Call.