Pets in Car Accidents

We love our pets like they’re a part of the family. We want to do everything in our power to keep them safe and give them the healthiest, longest life possible. This is why it’s so surprising how little thought people put into driving around with their cat or dog in the car. Traveling with an unrestrained pet is putting your furry friend in grave danger. If there were to be a car collision while your pet is in the car, it’s quite likely that the pet would be projected from the vehicle unless restrained in some safe way.

What To Do With Your Pets In Case Of An Auto Accident

The Center for Pet Safety performed crash tests to rate the effectiveness of canine travel restraints. They obviously aim to improve the safety of our pets, but also the safety of humans in the car. When a pet is unrestrained and involved in a car collision, it becomes a dangerous projectile traveling at high speeds that can injure other passengers and cars on the road. Car crashes involving pets makes for slightly more complicated legal cases. Consider speaking to a Las Vegas auto accident attorney as it pertains to your specific situation.

Pet Car Restraint Options

There are many varieties of restraints you can use for your pet. It’s important to understand what each variety is for and to choose the one that works best for your pet. What’s best for a kitten will not work as well for a 100 pound great dane. Though it may seem complicated, the below list should give you a basic idea of which type of restraint to pursue:

Pet Carriers

Pet carriers are best for smaller animals, such as the aforementioned kitten and other pets under 15 pounds. The small container and rigid structure provides a safe environment in the case of a crash. Be sure to include enough padding within the carrier itself so there is a buffer if there’s a crash but also for the pet’s overall comfort. They should be strapped in with a seatbelt during travel.

Pet Harness

Larger pets who cannot fit in a carrier should wear a harness that can be connected to the car’s seat belt. Harnesses will go around the chest and shoulders of the pet, providing security without potentially choking your cat or dog. This design also helps spread the force of the seatbelt in a wider area, making it less likely to hurt the animal. The quality of harnesses can vary widely depending on the manufacturer. Ask your veterinarian for advice or do a thorough search online.

Booster Seats

This is another option for the smaller pets. Booster seats provide a nest-like environment that helps smaller pets feel safe. The pet is also raised so he or she can see out the window and get a better idea of what’s going on. The booster seat should be combined with a harness so the animal stays strapped in.


For dogs that are too large even for a harness, a barrier should be used to confine the dog at least to the back seat. Barriers range widely in their material and mounting mechanisms. Mesh barriers are common and can protect the driver from a distracting canine companion, but they are not crash-proof and offer no protection for your pup in the case of a collision.


Crates are similar to the carrier option for smaller pets. They are sturdy containers that should be appropriately small for the dog. The pet should be able to turn around comfortably, but shouldn’t have too much room in case a car crash sends the crate flying. Crates vary from metal boxes to crash-tested safety crates.

When determining which mechanism to use, it’s important you keep the safety of everyone in mind – including those that would be in the car while the pet is but also those on the road. When animals are not properly restrained, they can lead to car collisions and injuries of sorts. Speak to an attorney to learn more.

If your Pet is Injured in an Auto Accident

If the above preventative measures aren’t enough to keep your pet safe in the case of a collision, you may be wondering what steps you can take against the individual you believe is responsible for your pets’ injuries. Under Nevada state law NRS 41.740, individuals who hurt or kill someone’s pet are financially liable for the following:

  • Veterinary costs
  • Reduction in market value of the pet directly due to its injuries
  • Market value of the pet
  • Burial expenses
  • Attorney’s fees associated with bringing action against the liable party

Though the total of the above damages may not exceed $5,000 per pet.

Call a Las Vegas Attorney Today

If you believe another person is responsible for the car collision that injured or killed your pet, you should speak to an experienced attorney as soon as possible. It can be difficult to gather sufficient evidence to convince a jury or judge of your case, so you should get started as soon as possible. Taking action against the liable individual can help bring justice to your pet and allow you to recover the finances necessary to help your friend heal.

With 15 years of experience serving Las Vegas and the surrounding area, there is no type of injury case the lawyers at Harris & Harris Injury Lawyers aren’t equipped to handle. When animals get involved, the law gets trickier. But with a Las Vegas injury attorney by your side, you can worry no more. Give us a call at (702) 384-1414 or contact us online.