What Are My Legal Rights After a Dog Bite?

Once the initial shock of the encounter wears off, people injured by dog attacks often feel helpless. Not only have they been injured through no fault of their own, they are often left traumatized. After a dog bite attack, it is important that New Mexico residents know their rights.

How New Mexico Law Determines Liability in Dog Bite Cases

When an animal attacks, liability is imposed on the owner of the animal or on the person who had control over the animal at the time of the incident. The dog owner has a duty to keep their dog under reasonable care and control at all times. Sometimes, even people who do not own the dog, but have the dog under their care at control at the time of the bite, are liable if they knew that the dog was vicious. People injured by dog bites have the right to compensation.

New Mexico’s “One Bite” Rule

New Mexico does not have a dog bite statute, but it is one of 16 “Dog Bite States,” meaning that New Mexico follows the One Bite Rule. The One Bite Rule protects dog owners, keepers and caretakers from liability the first time a dog attacks. After the first dog attack or bite, the owners, keepers or caretakers are then subject to strict liability since they knew or should have known that the dog is dangerous. However, even if a dog does not have a history of being vicious, animal owners may still be held liable for negligence, premise liability or violation of lease laws and ordinances. It is also important to know that victims who provoke an animal or trespass are exceptions to liablity and cannot pursue damages.

Dog Bite Incidents Should be Investigated

Those injured in a dog bite incident should contact the local Animal Control agency or other qualified agency to conduct a thorough investigation of the incident. Contacting the appropriate authorities will ensure that the person responsible for the dog is held accountable and may prevent incidents with that dog.

Financial Compensation for Dog Bites

New Mexico residents have the right to full recovery for all medical and related expenses from a dog attack. This means full compensation for all medical costs (sometimes including future medical expenses), psychological counseling, reimbursement for lost wages and additional consideration for pain and suffering. Note: All claims must be made within the three-year statute of limitations.