Like A Good Neighbor? State Farm Charges Family for Bumper of Car that Killed Their Dog

Kim Flemming thought that losing Jake, her 12-year-old yellow Labrador, in Aurora, Ontario was bad enough. That was until she received a letter from State Farm Insurance demanding that she pay for the dented bumper on the car that killed Jake.

Flemming had let Jake out when she returned home. He dashed into the road and was hit. He died in her arms.

Two months later, State Farm sent the bill for 1,732.80 Canadian dollars (1,648.95 US) stating “we are looking to you for reimbursement.”

State Farm spokesman John Bordignon insisted that this is only right and proper: “They could have made sure their dog wasn’t free on the roadway.” I suppose that would also encompass children killed by cars insured by State Farm.

Once again, why would State Farm want this bad press for less than two grand in reimbursement? It conveys that message to customers that the company is a heartless stereotype of an insurance giant. I doubt many people are reading this story and thinking “Hmmm, that sounds like a company that I would like to work with in case of any accidents.”

It appears that, whether it is a funeral or a hospital bed, “like a good neighbor, State Farm is there” to give you a bill for your grief.

State Farm appears to be pushing for recovery in unconventional reimbursement claims. Recently, it pursued a dram-shop-like claim against an employer that allowed a driver access to a keg before an accident, here. That, however, is more defensible than pursuing families for the damage caused in the killing of their pets.

In the meantime, State Farm is suing Texas after its Department of Insurance after the agency publicized on its Web site recent rate hikes by the company, here. State Farm insists that the agency should not have revealed the increases to the public, but Texas insists that all documents submitted to the agency are treated as public information. Once again, the lawsuit shows a curious legal analysis. In the fight to keep rate hikes from the public, the company has sued to ensure millions of people learn not only that the company has significant rate hikes but does not want the public to know.

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52 thoughts on “Like A Good Neighbor? State Farm Charges Family for Bumper of Car that Killed Their Dog”

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  2. The dog owner should have had her dog on leash and this would not have happened. I love my dog so much that I always put the leash on, even if he chooses to use the restroom in the yerd. I never, never, let him run freely because I’m afraid he would run into the path of a car.

  3. aeracura, that was kind of what I was trying to get at. (Sorry if it wasn’t entirely clear, I was medicated at the time, although I stand by my ultimate opinion).
    I have to wonder how fast the person was driving through a residential neighborhood to NOT be able to avoid the dog. In such areas, children, dogs, etc. tend to wind up in the road with little to no warning. This is why you are required by law (here in the USA) to go slow through residential areas. Also, you need to be paying extra close attention when driving through these areas. There is a lot of activity going on that could suddenly wind up in the road.
    The point I was trying to make about the collar was a feeble attempt to try to see what State Farm was thinking. Such things can HELP to prevent accidents but it’s no guarantee. Maybe that’s what was going through their heads (and the driver’s). Even if she had put in all safety devices, (like you said) dogs still escape. My dog did that a lot when she was young: hopped the fence by standing on a container we had for our fish pond (she was the type to explore. She loved us dearly and we her, but she’s the type of dog who would run around until she dropped. If she were human, she’d call us to come pick her up after her day of exploration so she could be with her family). We’re so lucky she wasn’t hurt.
    But I still feel that there is no case for the diver here. Had he/she been driving responsibly, there would be no damage and no harm done. Like I said with my friend’s dog: the man who hit him was driving responsibly and the dog escaped with only minor injuries which healed in a few days. Granted, he could have been hurt more depending upon how he was hit, but I really believe that because the owner was driving responsibly, Max was just fine. I personally think the owner ought to be held responsible for the death of the dog; he would be if it had been a child he hit. It’s as if no one values the life of the dog. My heart goes out to the poor woman who lost her dog. I’d like to tell her that her dog is now running around the great doggy park in the sky, having the time of his life and without any pain. Maybe he’s playing with my dogs, Circe and Tiffany (who died when I was younger) and my husband’s dog, Sparky.

  4. I am not going to make an argument for or against the insurance company, because we all know corporations are heartless, cold, calculated creatures and for us to expect anymore than that is preposterous. From a purley logical perspective, they do have a point.

    What is upsetting is the amount of sick and twisted people claiming negligence on the dog owners behalf. Even more disturbing are the poeple willing to blame parents for their children being hit by cars, that makes me sick. As I child I was let outside in my front yard without a leash of anysort -I believe that is inhumane- and one day I made a bolt for the street. My mom was chasing after me and LUCKILY she yelled loud enough that the blond bitch in a red sports car going 60km through a townhouse complex parking lot slammed on the breaks.

    Now, if that story was told with just the basics; my mom let me out, I ran into the middle of the road, I was almost hit by a car; you would be under the impression that my mother was neglectful. In reality, I have never met a woman who has cared more about her child but for one moment, me getting hurt was inevitable (my apartment is 5 sec from the road, she couldnt possibly have caught me, we have no back yard) unless she were to put me in a bubble and never let me leave my house for the rest of my life that is…

    What you know of this story barley skims the surface; dogs escape back yards, dogs bolt through the door when their owners return home, dogs slip off colars, through leashes etc. Animal owners, or parents who lose a child or beloved animal go through long periods of depression and stress because they blame themselves for not being able to protect the ones they love, even though it is NOT their fault. Would it be a parents fault if their child was abducted from a park, or after school, or the owners fault if their dog ate antifreeze someone else left laying in a field… no. So what makes this such an open and shut case you hearless bastards..

  5. I, as a dog lover, would have felt terrible having hit a dog. I’d be bawling at least as much as the owner.
    But to be a bit more objective:
    The dog owner should have been more careful with her dog. Invisible Fence is a good way to help prevent dogs running into the street (although it is of course not guaranteed).
    I’m also amused by the amount of money required to pay for the bumper. And how big was the dog to make a dent so large? Or how weak was the car?

    Had there been a child in the car and the owner swerved to miss the dog, killing the child, I’d have a few questions: 1. Was the child buckled in? If not, why? That’s the driver’s responsibility (here in MD as well as in VA, a driver will get a ticket if even one passenger is not buckled in properly). 2. (and this applies to the original situation as well) How fast was the driver going that he/she couldn’t at least attempt to avoid the dog? (maybe they did, but it doesn’t say either way).

    I was watching my best friend’s dog one Thanksgiving weekend. One day, my sister comes downstairs and asks: “Where’s Max?” He’s a hyper dog and his presence is generally easily felt. We looked all over the house and yard. No Max. We searched the neighborhood. No Max. My mom came across someone who had hit a dog and taken him to the shelter. It was Max. He was okay, bruised and sore and terrified, but okay (no broken bones or anything serious). I had a hard time not bawling my eyes out at the vet when I realized he was okay. (I was so greatful that that man was caring enough to care for Max). But the point I’m trying to make here is that the man was going about 30 miles an hour and Max was a sheltie, a thin, small dog. He was hit by an SUV. Granted it depends upon how the dog was hit, but shouldn’t a labrador be better able to survive such a hit if the driver was going a reasonable speed? Yes, I’m aware that perhaps the age of the dog contributed to his death, but still.

    Finally, a 12 year old dog generally doesn’t move very fast. My dogs are nearly 12 and my husband’s dog (may he rest in peace, poor puppy) couldn’t move well when he was 12 either. Thus, the driver ought to have seen the dog if he was paying attention. When driving in a residential area, you have to go slow and pay VERY close attention as dogs, children, toys, etc. have a tendency to suddenly wind up in the road. Going slow helps to prevent such accidents.

  6. Adrian,

    I thank you for acknowledging the fact that the Jewish do have one of the strongest lobbyist around. If you think I kid you ask. If this is racist to you, you had better find a better suited blog to read and/or contribute. Truth is truth in whatever way you find it.

    So Adrian you to are anonymous, or else whats your name and number. So we can all contact you.

    I have a number for you to call. its 413-497-0025. Call it for me.

  7. Since no one else has mentioned it, be it through ignorance or acceptance, I’ll take time to thank anonymously yours for once again bringing bigotry into a thread that has no place for it. Can’t go anywhere without it!!! Gotta love the racists. Always anonymous, always wrong…

  8. Okay, I’m not sure that I understand this correctly. You’re bashing an insurance company for doing its job? Sad as it may be, it was her dog. She was responsible for her dog. If her animal caused damage to another persons property, she has to pay for that. Are you seriously that naive to think otherwise?

    Sorry she lost her dog, but her dog did cause damage and cost the insurance company money to fix. Therefore they have to go after the person who caused the damages. That’s life, kids. Shit happens, and if you’re going to have animals or kids, you are responsible for them. Death involved or not.

    Let’s look at a scenario here:
    What if her dog ran off, bit someones child, and the parent of said child shot the dog. The family of bit child has to endure medical bills out the ass. They in turn make the dog owner pay. Are you going to say that it’s rude of those parents to make the dog owner pay for that?? Surely I think not!

  9. On a side note to the story kayke linked to: If you can afford to buy an Audi A8, you can afford to have it repaired at your expense after running over and killing a kid on a bicycle. End of story on that but hopefully not end of the story for justice. Since this story took place in 2008, hopefully the wheels have turned and Delgado is in prison for vehicular manslaughter.

  10. kayke,

    Thanks for the link. What a charmer that clown is.

  11. Dogs like any animal are unpredictable, My own have gotten out when my great dane learned to open my front door. I do not let my dogs run at large, but accidents happen and this one resulted in the loss of a member of their family. of course there is no mention to if the accident happened in a residential area or how fast the driver was going. Most dogs/kids get hurt because the motorist is going faster than the should and is unable to avoid hitting the obstacle. The life of a dog is worth more than a car bumper. Also, where in the name of our holy lord did they get that price for a bumper?

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