Transporting livestock can be very stressful to truck drivers and farmers. There are reckless drivers all around, changing lanes without signaling and veering over the center line. Even if you are driving at a safe speed and following the law the drivers of other vehicles can send your trailer sailing off the road, possibly causing harm to you and your livestock.
There are also cases where drivers honk their horn to intentionally scare your livestock, this can cause them to panic and that can make it hard for you to control of your vehicle as the large bodies of your livestock move around inside your trailer. If you’ve been in an accident that is the result of a similar situation, you may want to know who is really at fault.
If you want to learn more about North Carolina personal injury law involving damages sustained to hogs, cattle, and other livestock that are involved in an accident, continue reading below.
How is Livestock Classified under Personal Injury Law?
Generally, most tame animals—from livestock to pets—are classified as property. However, if your pet is killed in an accident caused by someone else, you’re not very likely to have much, if any, financial recourse unless your pet is considered to be expensive or a rare breed.
Depending on the accident’s circumstances, you may have a claim for your personal pain and suffering; in most cases however, your damages will be limited to the proven financial value of your pet.
Conversely, if your livestock is killed or injured due to the negligence of another person, you are likely to have a financial claim. The reason for this is that it is easier to assess the value of a cow, horse, or pig than it is to put a value on your family pet.
The value assigned to livestock depends on several factors, including the livestock’s age, health, and the reason it was being transported at the time the accident took place.
This latter often determines the fate of a claim on its own. Livestock costs fluctuate a great deal depending on the time of year, the supply and demand regionally and nationally, and the quality of the livestock.
If the accident occurred while you were hauling pigs for processing, and the pork was selling for $4.00 per pound, the cost of your lost livestock would likely be based on this per-pound price.
However, if you were involved in an accident and your pigs were eight weeks away from being ready to sell at market can make the loss trickier to calculate, and the price of pork at the eight-week mark may be used, not the time of the accident. If this is the case, you may need the help of experts to determine and testify to the true financial damages incurred in order to receive a fair judgment.
What Options Do you have if Your Livestock are Harmed or Killed in an Accident?
If you’re involved in a motor vehicle and you’ve suffered physical injuries to yourself and harm (or death) was caused to your livestock, your claim may be more complicated than a straightforward personal injury claim or a property damage claim under an automobile insurance policy.
If fault cannot easily be determined, this becomes even truer. Say you lost control of your vehicle and had an accident due to the action of another driver such as honking to spook your livestock or swerving in your lane, you could have a hard time proving this in court.
Your best option may be to file a personal injury suit. A personal injury judgment can compensate you for your own injuries and other damages (such as lost wages) and the cost of damages to your personal property, like your livestock and your vehicle.
With an injury suit, you may have the option to settle early or to take the matter to trial to determine fault and assess damages.
If you’ve been in an accident that was not your fault, we recommend you contact one of our experienced personal injury attorneys. Our office will be happy to discuss your case and let you know if they think you have a claim.