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Equine Veterinary Malpractice: What You’ll Need and When to Contact an Equine Attorney

A veterinarian forgets to X-ray the leg of a horse during a pre-purchase examination, a month later a chip in his fetlock is found.  A horse is not properly diagnosed after a number of farm visits.  An improper sedative used during an emergency hospital visit causes the death of a stallion.  All of these situations will lead to unnecessary emotional strain and financial loss to a horse owner.  All three of these situations are also are prime instances where an equine lawyer should be contacted to consider legal actions to hold those at fault accountable.

Equine Law Firm Basics:  What You Need to Pursue Equine Veterinary Malpractice

Generally speaking veterinary malpractice is professional negligence by a veterinarian.  For an equine law firm to win a malpractice case a horse attorney must prove:

1)      A relationship between a veterinarian and a client which establishes duty of care.

2)      That the veterinarian breached or departed from that duty and committed an act which was below the standard of care for veterinary practice.

3)      Proximate cause, meaning proof that the veterinary’s specific actions and not some other reason caused the horse’s devaluation or death.

4)      The sum of money lost as a result of the horse’s devaluation or death.

Horse Attorney Answers “What Kind of Recovery is Available in a Veterinary Malpractice Suit?”

In almost all instances the horse owner can ask minimally for the fair market value of the horse.  Depending on the jurisdiction, you may also be able to recover loss of profits, costs and expenses related to the litigation, pre-judgement interest and potentially equine law firm fees.  Laws vary from state to state on what financial recovery can include, consult a horse attorney to help you better understand what is allowed in your area.

Equine Attorney Smarts:  A Few Final Details About Equine Veterinary Malpractice

While getting in touch with an equine law firm is the best way to determine if a suit is something you would like to pursue, here are some important additional facts about equine veterinary malpractice.

  • Expect Substantial Time Investment.  Most veterinarians are prone to defend and not settle cases.  This means many cases go through extended litigation before a settlement.  Many go to trial.
  • Finding Experts Isn’t Always Easy.  Equine malpractice suits almost always require an expert to testify.  This means finding an independent veterinarian willing to testify against another veterinarian a sometimes not-so-easy task.
  • Act Quickly.  There is a short statute of limitations for veterinary malpractice.  Be sure to check with an equine lawyer on your state’s statute before proceeding.
  • A Competent Horse Attorney is a Must.  From distinguishing malpractice from negligence, to being able to site breach of contract elements and understanding veterinary errors and omissions insurance, a knowledgeable and experienced equine attorney can be a difference-maker in a case.

For more information on equine law or equine veterinary malpractice, please contact an equine attorney at (818) 707-0407.