Non-economic Damages in Veterinary Medicine

We have reported in the past about a court case here in Georgia that has national implications because it left open the potential for awarding damages above and beyond the market value of a pet, also known as non-economic damages. On January 19, 2016 the Georgia Supreme Court heard this case. The GVMA contributed to an amicus brief produced by the AVMA that argued emotion-based awards would be detrimental to veterinary medicine and the health and welfare of Georgia's pets. 

Below is more information assembled by the AVMA on non-economic damages.

State & Local Non-economic Damages Issues

AVMA position

AVMA legal brief

  • Vermont Supreme Court (PDF)
    The AVMA, along with the Vermont Veterinary Medical Association, filed this brief in the case of Goodby v. Vetpharm, before the Vermont Supreme Court, advocating against allowing recovery of non-economic damages for the loss or injury of a pet.

Other views

  • Resolution on animal liability and guardianship (American Legislative Exchange Council)
    This resolution of the American Legislative Exchange Council, adopted in August 2005, presents a rationale for opposing reclassification of animal owners as guardians and the recovery of non-economic damages for the loss or injury of a pet.
  • Non-economic damages – would it improve pet care? (Animal Health Institute)
    The Animal Health Institute presents answers to key questions concerning awarding of non-economic damages and the impact on pet care.

Analysis

When pet owners seek emotion-based damages, also known as non-economic damages, as compensation for pain and suffering, this sets up a domino effect of unintended and undesirable consequences that will actually hurt pets in the long run. ​