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The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. Your trusted legal advisors since 1976

Tampa Car Crash Kills Puppy


A chain-reaction car wreck seriously injured two people and killed a two-month-old family dog.

This crash happened on the Courtney Campbell Causeway. According to investigators, an emotionally-distraught driver smacked into a concrete median. Five other vehicles then crashed into the wreckage. Two people were seriously injured in the pile-up wreck. One vehicle also contained a two-month-old puppy; that puppy did not survive.

Investigators also said that the driver who caused the crash is being evaluated for mental health issues at a local facility.

The Last Clear Chance Defense in Tampa

In rear-end crashes like the one in the above story, Florida insurance companies almost always raise the last clear chance defense. Assume Driver A rear-ends Driver B. It seems that Driver A is clearly responsible for the crash. Indeed, the police officer at the scene may have even given Driver A a reckless driving or other citation.

But not so fast. There is a difference between fault for the accident and liability for damages. Fault is a factual issue; liability is a legal question. That’s one reason car crash victims should never assume they are ineligible for compensation because of what the police report says.

Back to our example. Sometimes, motorists like Driver A have a good chance to avoid crashes like these. Perhaps they could change lanes or slam on their brakes. If that’s the case, liability flips. Driver B is responsible for the crash, and not Driver A.

There is a difference between the last clear chance and any possible chance. It’s not always possible to make evasive maneuvers, especially if the weather is bad, the sky is dark, or the traffic is heavy.

Serious and Catastrophic Pet Injuries in Tampa

Most animal owners have emotional bonds with their animals which far exceed the ties they have to coffee makers or laptop computers. However, as far as Florida law is concerned, these things are all basically the same. The Sunshine State follows the majority rule, which is that pets are property.

Dogs, cats, and other small animals are especially prone to serious injury. Their little bodies simply cannot absorb trauma as well as the human body. So, most Florida courts allow recovery for “reasonable” veterinary and medical expenses. This calculation is usually related to the animal’s fair market value. Sentiment usually does not play a role. However, if the animal’s economic value exceeds its fair market value, Tampa judges generally allow more leeway. For example, if Fido is a show or stage dog, his economic value might be significantly higher than his fair market value.

But there is some good news in all this. Florida is one of the few states that allows claims for negligent infliction of emotional distress. NEID is a back door to fair compensation in pet injury cases. According to the Florida Supreme Court, NEID plaintiffs must establish the following:

  • A physical injury to the plaintiff, and not just to the animal,
  • A relationship between the defendant’s negligence and the victim’s suffering, and
  • A close relationship between the plaintiff and the injured person (or animal).

If the plaintiff sought counselling because of the death of a family pet, the NEID case is even stronger.

Team Up with Experienced Lawyers

The loss of a pet may hurt almost as bad as the loss of a family member. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Tampa, contact The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. After-hours appointments are available.


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