Animal Law Review


Steve Barghusen

Author Details

Dr. Steve Barghusen is a practicing veterinarian who also holds a J.D.

First Page



Many scholars have argued for and against the recovery of noneconomic damages in cases of veterinary malpractice involving companion animals. However, scholarship has not focused on the results that allowing noneconomic damages may have on the structure of companion animal veterinary practices. This Article uses the human medical field as a predictive model to explore the potential effects of granting noneconomic damages in veterinary malpractice cases. The author argues that awarding damages substantial enough to encourage increased litigation will result in significant changes in the field of veterinary medicine. Allowing for recovery of noneconomic damages will make veterinary care more expensive and will not significantly deter negligent malpractice. Individuals will pay more for veterinary care or companion animals will receive less care if high noneconomic damage awards become the norm in veterinary malpractice cases. Although these changes will affect all veterinary facilities, ironically, high quality veterinary facilities may be more likely to be sued than their lower quality counterparts. The author concludes by discussing alternatives to malpractice litigation, the human-animal bond, and the possible factors contributing to the high cost of human medicine in the United States.

Included in

Animal Law Commons



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