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When should an Airline be Responsible for Your Harm to Your Pet

When should an Airline be Responsible for Your Harm to Your Pet

This is When You Can Hold an Airline Responsible for Your Harm to Your Pet

When going on a family trip by air, whether for a vacation or relocation, you are just as responsible for your safety as the airline. It is your responsibility as the traveler, to make sure that everybody going on the trip is in the best state to travel. And this includes the family dog too.

Concurrently, it is the responsibility of airlines to ensure that everyone is borne safely to their destination, family dog included. But when you do everything required of you and harm still comes to your beloved pet, then the responsible airline can be held to account.

Usually, airlines maintain a policy that pets are not allowed on flights. This is understandable as it may be awkward if everyone flying had a pet in hand. But when they do allow you to bring your pet, they have an obligation to treat the pet properly.

When your dog has encountered harm or even death due to mishandling by the airline staff, they may have a case to answer. You may be able to file a claim against the airline and recover damages for the harm.

At Oshan and associates, we understand the special place that pets have in families and the trauma that can result from their harm. This is why high-powered lawyer, Evan Oshan especially does everything he can to help aggrieved pet owners like you secure redress. If you believe that your pet suffered harm or died due to a failure in the airline’s obligations, please contact us immediately.

To understand more about the duty placed on owners of pets and when airlines would be liable, please read on below.

What are you expected to do in preparation for your air travel?

The first duty as regards pet safety on airlines falls to the owner, you. When preparing for travel, you have to prepare your dog as well. Some of the requirements include:

  • Ensuring that your dog is more than eight weeks old. Airlines will not accept your dog for travel if he is younger than that.
  • Ensuring that your dog’s vaccinations, worming and flea and tick treatments are up to date. You should also request a certificate for a clean bill of health from the vet as you may be required to show it when you check in your dog for the journey. This also serves as proof that you did not default in your responsibilities as a pet owner. It would also establish that your dog did not have any “preexisting conditions” that have might be worsened by the flight. This is one defense that airlines love using, and by having your certificate handy, you can quell that argument.
  • Getting the appropriate container or carrier. You must have ensured that your dog was housed in a TSA approved pet carrier (soft-sided or hard-sided). The carrier should be well ventilated. It should also give enough room for your dog to be able to stand up fully, turn 360 degrees, and lie down in a natural position.
  • Acclimate your pet to his carrier ahead of the trip. As far in advance of the trip as possible, let your pet get to know his crate. Encourage him to spend as much time as possible in it. It is important for your dog to be as relaxed as possible during the flight. Getting your pet accustomed to the crate will be crucial to making that happen.

Ensure that you have met all the requirements, as failing in any one could be detrimental to your lawsuit. Now that you understand what is expected of you as a traveller, let’s take a look at what is expected of the airlines.

What are the airline’s obligations towards your pet?

In general, the airline should provide humane and considerate measures for handling your pet prior to, during and after the flight. United Airline’ PetSafe program explains just what these humane measures look like:

  • Provision of aircraft compartments for cats and dogs that are pressurized and climate-controlled in the same way as passenger cabins.
  • A dedicated 24-hour PetSafe desk
  • Climate controlled warehouse and aircraft facilities that ensure the safety of your pet. To ensure comfort in any weather conditions, pets should be the last cargo loaded and the first cargo unloaded from the plane.
  • Personal handling of pets in climate-controlled vehicles for connections. This will be important if the animal will be exposed to temperatures greater than 85°F (29.5°C) or lower than 45°F (7°C) for more than 45 minutes.

Who should be held liable when airlines fail in their obligations?

If your dog dies or is wounded as a result of the failure of airlines to meet their obligations, you have a right to hold them liable. However, this is often tricky because they employ a range of mechanisms through terms on the flight booking that protect them from liability. They often disclaim liability for loss of personal property, under which pets are classified.

Despite this, it is not impossible to hold them liable. Experienced lawyer, Evan Oshan has helped aggrieved owners hold airlines liable in a number of cases for failure in their obligations to dogs. Some of these cases include:

  • Kokito, the French Bulldog, whose owner was forced to put him in an overhead bin, thereby resulting in his death. Having filed a claim for gross misuse of authority, we were able to hold the airline liable for the actions of their staff. The airline eventually settled and fair compensation was recovered.
  • Another case is that of Alejandro, the Pomeranian dog. We filed a claim against the airline for failing in their obligation to deliver him safely to his owner. The airline was also held liable for possibly eliminating evidence.
  • In the case of Bear, the German Shepherd puppy, the airline failed to deliver him safely to his family. When the airline also kept the family from gaining access to his body, we got involved in the case and helped make the airline accountable.

More cases abound of instances where airlines have been negligent in their duties, thus leading to the injury or death of pets. In all instances, the airline can be held responsible for the harm or death of your pet if it resulted from the acts of their staff.

Even if the responsible individual was not an employee of the airline, responsibility can still lie. The airline is expected to reasonably supervise all those that work for it.

What compensation can you expect?

When your dog dies or sustains an injury as a result of the negligence of airlines, you can recover veterinary bills and other damages. These may either relate to the cost of examining and treating the pet or the cost of adapting your home to your pets new needs.

To secure your chances of compensation, ask your vet to carefully document all findings from your pet’s examination. Also ensure that you get all the copies of your pet’s treatment record so that you can have an accurate account of all the costs incurred.

You can also get compensation for your dog’s “market value”. This is the most common type of compensation you get when your dog dies. Before now, it was even the only type of compensation you could get.

However, due to an increased recognition of the elevated place that pets occupy in our homes and lives, things have changed. A growing number of states now allow greater economic awards. In these states, you may also be able to receive non-economic damages for the emotional toll the death causes on your family. These states include Tennessee, Illinois and New York.

You may also be able to recover punitive damages in some cases, such as if the person who harmed your animal did so on purpose.

Contact Us

Airlines need to be consistently reminded that pets are living beings deserving of utmost care and attention. They should recognize that even though pets sometimes ride in the cargo hold of their planes, they are definitely not cargo. And they should never be treated as such.

At Oshan and associates, we consistently sound that reminder emphatically to airlines. It is our remit to ensure that they do not cause grief to families due to their carelessness. If your pet has been harmed, please call us on 206-355-3880. You can also fill our client intake form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our attorneys.



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