Under most jurisdictions, you cannot recover from pain and suffering from losing a friend or sibling, unless that person is supporting you in some way and the case is no different with pets, says retired Superior Court Judge Eugene Hyman of Santa Clara, California.
With pets, unless there's a special statute allowed, allowing compensation for pain and suffering, you cannot recover, explains Hyman. If there's been really bad behavior on the part of someone where it is not just negligence but total disregard, then one might be able to recover under the theory of punitive damages. Pets are just property, notes Hyman, with the exception of seeing eye dogs and the like.
"If you can't recover from the loss of a friend or sibling, then it makes sense you might not be able to recover emotional claims with respect to the loss of a pet, unless the pet is a special qualified kind of pet," Hyman says. He also points out that if one is to recover with respect to the loss of a pet, it will only increase insurance premiums.
Honorable Judge Eugene Hyman has received numerous awards and recognition for his work with families and children and has appeared on numerous television news shows. For more information, visit www.judgehyman.com. He is also a featured commentator on The Family Law Channel and The Legal Broadcast Network.