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Understanding International Law Navigating Financial Turmoil: The Role of Bankruptcy Lawyers Demystifying the Role of a Family Law Attorney Understanding Legal Protections in America The Intricacies of Personal Injury Law: A Layman’s Guide

Pets Talk: When is the vet liable – 5 Important Points to consider

A visit to the vet is necessary at some point for every pet, be it as a precaution or in the event of an acute illness. Even with injuries, a visit to the vet is usually unavoidable. Pets R Priority is a great source for more information to bring about great knowledge on subject matters like these. The resulting invoice is then often just as understandable as that of the dentist or lawyer. What these professional groups have in common is that they have a fee schedule on the basis of which they have to bill.

What if the vet makes mistakes during treatment?

If a veterinarian makes a gross error in treatment , he must pay the full amount for the damage incurred . For example, a veterinarian’s medical error left a bitch infertile. The owner was awarded damages of 8,000 euros.

This judgment is based on the following legal principles:

  • If, from a medical point of view , a veterinarian decides to put an animal to sleep and not be able to save it, the animal’s owner must pay the full cost of the “intervention”, even if he believes that the dog was killed unjustly . Only if an independent expert comes to the conclusion that the euthanasia  was unnecessary can the owner of the animal assert claims for damages.
  • A veterinarian is obliged to provide information about the type of treatment, possible risks and prospects of success . If he fails to comply with this obligation to provide information, he may be obliged to pay damages.
  • Veterinarians are free to choose which animals to treat and which not. A keeper is only entitled to benefit if the veterinarian is required to provide emergency treatment .
  • Home visits by the vet are a voluntary service .
  • Anyone who takes their pet to the vet enters into a contract with them that does not need to be in writing. However, there are different types of contracts, each with different compensation rules .

Types of contract between veterinarian and pet owner

Depending on the performance of the treating veterinarians, three different contracts can be distinguished. This is the basis for negotiations in the event of a dispute. 

1. Service Contracts

In most cases, veterinary services are based on a service contract (ยงยง 611 ff. BGB). This obliges the veterinarian to provide appropriate veterinary services that are intended to bring about the recovery of the animal. No guarantee is given in this service contract.

2. Work contracts

Contracts for work – vaccinations or veterinary purchase examinations – which make a certain performance sequence mandatory , are different. If there is no success at first, the service must be repeated or the entitlement to payment for the service shall no longer apply. If the animal owner suffers damage due to the poor performance of the veterinarian, he is entitled to compensation .

3. Treatment Contracts

In the case of treatment in a veterinary clinic, the contract contains both service contract and work contract elements; it is therefore a matter of mixed legal contractual relationships .

This is how the vet bills for his services

For veterinarians, the magic word for the cash register is fee schedule for veterinarians (GOT for short). The GOT list is the basis for invoicing by the veterinarian. It is binding for all veterinarians. Each treatment step and its costs are listed in this list, divided into individual animal species.

However, it is at the discretion of the veterinarian which rate he charges for the treatment . In regular consultation hours he can choose between the 1-fold and 3-fold rate. In the emergency service, at least 2 times and at most 4 times the rate is required. 

GOT example vaccination dog and cat: 

  • 1-fold set: 4.49 euros
  • 2-fold set: 8.98 euros
  • 3-fold set: 13.47 euros

The rate required by the veterinarian depends on the difficulty of the service, time required, point in time, value of the animal and local conditions. 

More billing basics

In addition to the fee schedule for veterinarians (GOT) already mentioned, there are other legal bases for the billing of treatments that regulate the costs in detail.

minimum price

  • There is a minimum price for each step of a treatment, this is called a simple rate . The veterinarian is not allowed to take less, he can do more, depending on the individual case and the difficulty. The upper limit is three times the fee rate . If the rate falls below the minimum rate or if the rate exceeds the maximum rate, the veterinarian must make a separate written agreement with the pet owner before the start of treatment .

fee regulation

  • In 2010, after a good 11 years, the GOT was amended with the fee ordinance of July 28, 1999 (Federal Law Gazette 1999, Part I, page 1691 ff.). Veterinary fees have increased by an average of 15 to 20 percent . The catalog of services has been adapted to medical progress : many treatment and examination methods have been newly included, or greater differentiation has been made between the individual treatment sections.

Schedule of Fees

  • The schedule of fees quantifies the price for each veterinary service . The schedule of fees can be understood as a ” modular system “: Most treatments are made up of several steps. Furthermore, various factors such as effort, material consumption, drug costs, time expenditure, etc. must be taken into account, because the need for drugs is naturally lower for a Yorkshire terrier than for a mastiff. The schedule of fees is divided into Part A , with basic services such as advice, general examination with advice, and Part B , with special servicesE.g. injection, surgical intervention (castration), bandage and much more.

That should include the bill from the vet 

In order for the animal owner to be able to understand the vet bill, the bill should contain the following minimum information , according to the legislator:

  • date of treatment,
  • the animal species
  • the diagnosis _
  • the calculated power ,
  • the invoice amount and
  • the sales tax

In theory, the treatment of a comparable dog in the country would cost the same as in the big city. This is usually not the case. In the big city, the fee framework is often used more generously than in the surrounding area.