What Are the Dog Bite Laws in New Mexico?

August 10, 2023 | By Impact Legal Car Accident Attorneys
What Are the Dog Bite Laws in New Mexico?

There is no actual statute regarding dog-bite liability in the state of New Mexico. However, there is a Uniform Jury Instruction in effect which holds that a dog owner is liable for any damages caused by a dog if that owner was aware the dog had any kind of vicious tendency or inclination to be vicious.

In a situation where the injured person knew that the dog had vicious tendencies, or if the injured person knowingly excited the dog, or unnecessarily put himself close to the dog, the dog owner may not be liable for any injuries incurred. 

In order to prove strict liability, the injured party must demonstrate that the dog owner had prior knowledge of the dog's vicious tendencies. This could be through prior incidents which have occurred, or statements from reliable witnesses attesting to the dog's vicious nature. A dog bite lawyer in Santa Fe, who understands the relevant requirements can help you prove strict liability. A dog bite victim may also file a claim under the traditional theory of negligence as an alternative way to recover from injuries. 

The “One Bite” Rule

Although the state of New Mexico does not have a specific dog statute, it is one of sixteen so-called “dog bite states” that follow the One-Bite Rule. The One-Bite Rule states that caretakers, handlers, and owners of a dog should be protected from liability the first time that their dog attacks someone.

Following that first attack or dog bite, the caretaker or owner is then obliged to be responsible and liable because, at that point, they should have known the dog had vicious tendencies. Even if the dog has never demonstrated a prior history of being vicious, it is still possible for a dog owner to be found guilty of negligence, or to be in violation of some laws and ordinances.

An exception to the One-Bite Rule occurs when the victim of an attack has actually provoked an animal action or has trespassed on the dog owner's property. In situations such as these, the owner may be exempt from liability, and the victim may not have grounds to pursue damages. Every case is unique, so be sure to retain the advice of an experienced dog bite lawyer to understand the specifics of your potential injury claim.

When a Dog Bite Occurs

The first thing that should be done following a dog bite is for the victim to contact either the Animal Control agency or a similarly qualified agency to report the incident and have it fully investigated. This is the best way to ensure that the person who is responsible for the dog is held accountable and to ensure that future attacks are prevented.

When Animal Control has fully investigated an incident, they may be used as a witness by dog bite injury lawyers in any subsequent events where the dog injures someone. Given the fact that this is a reputable and reliable witness, it will generally have a significant influence on the outcome of any legal proceedings that take place.

Compensation for Dog Bites

Residents of the state of New Mexico are entitled to full compensation for any medical expenses or related expenses resulting from a dog attack. That means all medical costs are eligible for full compensation, and in some cases future medical expenses as well, if they are known.

The victim of a dog bite is also entitled to psychological counseling in cases where the individual has been traumatized. Furthermore, the victim is entitled to reimbursement for any lost wages from missed time at work, and they are also entitled to consideration for any pain and suffering which they have been forced to endure.

Any claim made following a dog bite must be initiated by dog attack lawyers, or the victim personally, within a three-year statute of limitations.

Anyone who has been the victim of a dog bite attack may have to go through a prolonged recovery after the initial terror of being attacked by a vicious animal. Medical attention is likely to be required, there may be disfiguring scars, and psychological counseling may even be necessary.

In short, it may be difficult for a victim to resume everyday life, and the memory of the attack may stay in the back of their mind for long after the event. When a New Mexico resident makes a claim for compensation after being bitten by a dog, the dog owner's insurance company is likely to try any possible strategy to disqualify the claim.

Most insurance companies have considerable resources that can be used to prevent making a large payout to a claimant. If you've been attacked by a dog in New Mexico, the best course of action is to retain a dog bite lawyer in Santa Fe who fully understands the law. The attorney will have the knowledge and experience to draw on prior cases, and will also have the resources to ensure that your claim gets fully investigated.

If you're in need of legal advice following a dog attack, give us a call or text to schedule a free, no-obligation case review. You can reach us at 602-345-1818, or fill out this contact form to request your meeting.