Over 80 million families in the United States, or about 67% of households in the country, own a pet, according to a 2019-2020 survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA). Of that number, dogs are the most popular type of pet. Over 60 million families own a dog.
While dogs are our beloved family companions, there’s no way to completely eradicate the risk of a dog bite. Dogs are still animals, and bites can occur with any breed, size, or age of dog. The American Veterinary Medicine Association estimates that over 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the U.S. At least half of those bitten are children.
If you or someone in your family has been bitten by a dog in New Mexico, you can seek compensation from the owner to help you recover physically, emotionally, and financially. Contact Whitener Law Firm by calling our office at (505) 883-7877, or schedule a free consultation online.
What to Do After a Dog Bite
If you’ve been bitten by a dog, take immediate steps to care for your health. See a doctor as soon as you can.
Call animal control or the police
Always call your local animal control office or the police to report the incident. Animal control can conduct an investigation and obtain information about the dog and its owner. Call 911 if the bite is severe, or if the dog’s owner is hostile and if you need help right away.
While waiting for the police or medical attention, gather information and take photos if you’re able. Photos of the dog, information about the owner, and where the bite occurred can be helpful to the police, animal control, attorneys, or insurance companies afterward.
When the police arrive, ask for a copy of the incident report so you can keep it for your records. This will come in handy when filing a dog bite lawsuit.
Call your doctor
Seek medical attention as soon as you can for the bite if:
- The bite punctured the skin and is deep or large.
- The bite is on the feet, hand, fingers, neck, face, or head.
- You can’t stop the bite from bleeding after a few minutes.
- You notice signs of infection, such as swelling, redness, warmth, or pus draining from the bite.
- You see exposed muscle or bone.
- You’re not sure if the wound needs stitches.
When you visit the doctor, they’ll likely ask you if you knew the owner of the dog, if the dog was provoked to bite, and other details of the incident. They’ll also ask you about any health conditions you have that may raise your risk of a severe infection.
The bite area will be cleaned, and you may need stitches or sutures to close the wound. You may also be given a rabies vaccine or tetanus shot if necessary, and antibiotics to prevent or treat an infection.
Keep all doctor’s visits, medical records, prescriptions, and other documents in case you need to use them as evidence in a lawsuit later.
File a Dog Bite Lawsuit in New Mexico
If you’re considering filing a lawsuit for your dog bite in New Mexico, it’s important to understand New Mexico’s laws first. Dog bite laws can vary from state to state.
The “One Bite Rule”
New Mexico does not have a specific statute regarding personal injury liability for dog bites.
Instead, the “One Bite” Rule applies. If an owner knows their dog is dangerous and prone to biting because of breed, inherent characteristics, prior treatment, or some other factor, they may be held liable for the dog’s first bite.
However, if the person who was bitten knew that the dog may be dangerous, provoked the dog to attack, or unnecessarily put themselves in harm’s way, the owner may not be held liable.
New Mexico’s statute of limitations
Because New Mexico doesn’t have laws in place governing dog bites, these types of lawsuits have much in common with lawsuits involving negligence, which is a failure to exercise appropriate or expected care in a situation.
When you file a personal injury lawsuit on the grounds of negligence, you’ll need to prove that the owner did not take reasonable care to restrain their dog or keep it safe from causing others harm. You may also need to prove that your actions did not provoke the dog to bite you.
In New Mexico, you have three years from the date of the incident to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you don’t file within this period, your case may be dismissed, and you’ll lose your chance to get compensation for your injuries.
Seeking Legal Help After a Dog Bite in New Mexico?
Filing a personal injury lawsuit takes a lot of time and resources. If you decide to file a dog bite lawsuit on your own, you’ll need to understand New Mexico’s complex negligence laws, the personal injury lawsuit process, and exactly what evidence you’ll need to prove your case. You’ll also need to communicate with multiple parties, such as insurance companies, your doctors, other attorneys, the police, and anyone else involved in the incident.
You don’t have to file your dog bite claim on your own. A personal injury attorney can help you increase your chances of winning your lawsuit. An experienced attorney will know what information serves as the strongest evidence, what to say to other parties during the lawsuit, and how to get the financial compensation you deserve for your dog bite-related injury.
If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog in New Mexico and are considering filing a lawsuit, Whitener Law Firm can help. Our team of New Mexico personal injury liability attorneys will fight for your legal rights so you can focus on recovery. Call our Albuquerque office today at 505-883-RUSS (7877) or schedule a consultation using our contact form online. You can also like and follow the Whitener Law Firm Facebook page for more legal resources and firm updates.