Advice about veterinary care

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Advice about veterinary care

Last Thanksgiving, I took my dog to the vet
because she started vomiting. They gave her
medication and an injection in her rear right leg
to help with the nausea. Upon arriving home,
the leg where she got the injection was
paralyzed and she couldnt feel anything or
move it.

We called the vet clinic and they said it may be
a reaction and sometimes can last 48 hours.
She never regained felling and would drag her
leg across the ground. She dragged it until all
the hair was pulled out and her skin began to
scrape off.

We made another trip to the vet clinic and they
were clueless as to why this could be
happening. They gave us more medication and
bandages her leg. We were instructed to keep
her leg bandages while it heals. It is now
almost April, 5 months since the initial visit, and
she is still paralyzed. We have made numerous
trips to the vet for an issue they caused,
continue to be charged hundreds of dollars per
visit, my dog remains gimp, and the vet still has
no answers for us.

I am just lost as to what to do. This issue has
caused myself and my wife a lot of frustration
and grief, my dog has gone and continues to
go through a lot of suffering with continued
injury, and it continues to be a financial burden
of an issue that the vet clinic caused in the first
place. Please help

Asked on March 28, 2019 under Malpractice Law, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You can sue for vetrinary malpractice (negligent or careless medical care), assuming there is evidence that it was carelesss. That things went badly doesn't prove that by itself: sometimes doctors or vets do everything right but the patient still suffers or has problems. You would need testimony from another vet who examined your dog and reviewed the treatment and who can offer a professional opinion that what was done was inappropriate or careless.
But even if you can show that, it may not be worth suing. The law does not recognize how much pets are part of our families or the emotional impact that harm to them has on us. Rather, pets are treated like inanimate posseessions: all you can get back in a lawsuit is the cost to "repair" them (i.e. of further medical treatment) or to "replace" them (i.e. if the animal was an expensive purebreed and passes away, its cost). There is no compensation for the dog's suffering, or your frustration and grief.
Against those limitations, you'd have to pay for the second vet to examine your dog and the treatment, and for his/her time to testify in court at need. You could spend more on the case than you get back.
As a long-time dog owner, I understand how frustrating this must be for you, and I wish I had more positive information to share.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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