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Check Your Car for Animals as It Gets Colder

By Kelly Balamuth on January 9, 2018

It’s probably the last place you’d think to look for an animal, but come wintertime, your car engine becomes very attractive to critters of all shapes and sizes. For instance, you may have noticed that cats like to sit on car hoods. This is because they appreciate the warmth of an engine after it’s recently been turned off.

For this same reason, animals (whether house pets, strays, or wild animals) will sometimes crawl up into a car’s engine column for warmth and shelter.

A recent news story of a North Carolina woman who heard a puppy whining in a nearby parked car illustrates the need to check your car before driving in colder weather. Fortunately, the woman, a welding instructor at a nearby school, took quick action and was able to open up the hood and extract the puppy from beneath the engine before it was injured. The driver of the car revealed that she didn’t own any pets and had no idea how it might have gotten inside, but that it must have been lodged in the engine for her entire 45-minute drive. (Happily, the puppy was adopted after this incident.)

It turns out that this happens more often than you might expect. A 2015 Boston.com report highlighted many creatures that make their homes inside vehicles, causing all sorts of damage. Examples include mice, rats, squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, and possums. Once inside, they might create a nest, urinate, eat through wires, or destroy the interior, creating thousands of dollars of damage in the process. One exterminator explained that he has to extract an animal from a car about once a month.

What do animal infestations have to do with speaking to a lawyer? Well, that depends on the exact nature of your problem. In many cases, the presence of animals in a car is due to some product defect on the part of the manufacturer. For instance, in 2014, Mazda recalled thousands of its vehicles due to a reoccurring problem with spiders crawling up into the fuel tank spouts. They were weaving webs thick enough to block the airflow in the fuel tank hose, posing a major fire risk.

In other cases, it could be an animal that was able to escape from its owner. If someone failed to restrain his cat or dog and it caused you property damage, the owner should be held responsible. By the same token, if the animal bites or scratches you while you are removing it from your car, the owner could again be found legally responsible.

The only way to find out if you have a case is to consult a Northern California attorney who understands the issues surrounding product liability and animal bites. The legal team at Balamuth Law has the experience and resources to help clients receive fair compensation for all types of cases. Our personal injury and wrongful death lawyers make it their mission to right the wrongs caused by negligence. Call us today at (925) 254-1234 to schedule a free consultation.

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Posted in: Auto Maintenance

Attorney Kelly Balamuth was profiled in the
September 2013 Issue of Plaintiff Magazine.

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