Understanding New Mexico Dog Bite Laws

Around 4.5 million dog bites occur each year throughout the U.S, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Of these bites, one in five become infected, leading to severe injuries that have long-term effects and require ongoing medical care. While there are steps owners can take to minimize the risk of their dog attacking an innocent person, such as early and consistent training, socialization, and by installing proper fences, accidents still happen. When these unfortunate incidents do occur, it can be emotionally trying for pet owners and victims alike, especially when there are severe injuries involved. This is why it is critical to seek the expertise of someone, like a dog bite attorney, to understand what happens next and to have a person to lean on through the legal process.

At The Law Offices of Kenneth G. Egan, we have been handling dog bite cases in Las Cruces, New Mexico for years. We understand not only the nuances of New Mexico’s dog bite laws, but how troubling it can be for both parties involved. Our guide to your frequently asked questions about dog bites is here to help provide a few answers so that you are better informed if you or a loved one are facing a dog bite injury. 

New Mexico’s One-Bite Law

New Mexico has a uni que approach to dog bites that generally requires the expertise of someone well-versed both state and common law. While the state does not have a statute for dog bites, the “one-bite” law you may have heard about in the past is a common law doctrine applied by the New Mexico courts. 

In general, the one-bite law means that dog owners aren’t automatically liable for damages if their dog bites someone for the first time. However, this means the victim of the bite faces a higher burden of proof to establish the owner’s liability. In such cases, it can be helpful to seek the experience of a dog bite attorney to support your during this, often emotional, legal process. 

However, like with any rule, there are a few exceptions. Dog owners may be held liable if their dog bites someone, even if it was the first bite, if: 

  1. They knew about the dog’s prior history of aggression, even if it didn’t involve biting.
  2. They were negligent in controlling the dog, like failing to leash it in public places.
  3. The bite occurred on the owner’s property and the victim wasn’t trespassing.

1. How Do You Negotiate a Dog Bite Settlement?

Negotiating a dog bite settlement involves several crucial steps. Initially, it’s important to assess the severity of the injury and its impact on the victim’s life. This assessment forms the basis of your claim, factoring in medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

In New Mexico, the process often involves dealing with insurance companies. It’s important to understand that these companies may aim to minimize payouts. Therefore, crafting a compelling demand letter outlining the damages is a vital step.

The negotiation phase is a back-and-forth process. Engaging an experienced dog bite attorney can help ensure that the settlement offer adequately compensates for the injuries and losses incurred.

2. What to Do If Someone Sues You for a Dog Bite in New Mexico

If you are sued for a dog bite in New Mexico, the first step is to contact your homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance provider, as these policies often cover dog bite liabilities. It’s crucial to understand your rights and responsibilities under New Mexico law.

New Mexico follows the “one-bite rule,” which means that a dog owner may not be held liable if the dog has never shown aggression before. However, if your dog has a history of aggression, you could be held responsible for the injuries caused.

3. How to Sue for a Dog Bite in New Mexico

To sue for a dog bite in New Mexico, you need to establish the dog owner’s liability. Under the “one-bite rule,” if the dog has previously bitten someone or shown a tendency to be aggressive, the owner can be held liable.

The process begins by filing a lawsuit in the appropriate court. You will need to prove the owner’s knowledge of the dog’s aggressive nature and any negligence in preventing the attack. Documenting your injuries, medical treatment, and any related expenses is crucial.

4. Do I Need an Attorney If My Dog Bit Someone?

If your dog has bitten someone, and you are in any kind of doubt, it’s wise to consider hiring a New Mexico dog bite attorney who understands the nuances of state and local law. A do bite lawyer can help you understand your legal obligations and represent you in negotiations with the victim or the victim’s attorney and help you navigate any legal proceedings that may arise.

5. Can You Sue for a Dog Bite in New Mexico?

Yes, you can sue for a dog bite in New Mexico. The state’s “one-bite rule” allows victims to seek compensation if they can prove the dog had a history of aggression or had bitten someone before. It’s important to act within the statute of limitations, which in New Mexico is three years from the date of the bite.

To successfully sue, the victim must gather evidence of the dog’s past behavior, document their injuries, and establish the owner’s knowledge of the dog’s aggressiveness.

Finding a Dog Bite Attorney near Las Cruces, NM

Navigating the aftermath of a dog bite in New Mexico can be confusing and emotionally taxing. While the one-bite rule may seem straightforward, the nuances of state law and the complexities of negotiation or legal proceedings can quickly become overwhelming. This is where The Law Offices of Kenneth G. Egan comes in.

We stand beside you, protecting your rights and advocating for your best interests every step of the way. Whether you’re a victim seeking compensation for a painful injury or a dog owner facing a lawsuit, our experienced dog bite attorneys have the knowledge and compassion to guide you through this challenging time.

Don’t go it alone. Contact us today for a free consultation and learn how we can help you navigate the legal complexities of a dog bite incident in New Mexico. We are located at 1111 Lohman Avenue, Las Cruces, NM, 88001, and are proud to service the surrounding areas, including Doña Ana, Santo Tomas, La Mesa, Fort Selden, Radium Springs, and beyond.