Although a dog is considered a man’s best friend, they can unintentionally cause harm to another person. As a lawyer who handles dog bite claims, I often see cases where a dog has bitten someone, and the injured party is seeking payment for damages caused by the dog. If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, it is a good idea to discuss the situation with a lawyer experienced in handling dog bite claims to find out if the owner can be held responsible.
Dog Bite Liability in New Mexico
New Mexico law recognizes the “one bite” rule. This means that before the owner of a dog can be held liable, the dog must have one prior incident for aggressively biting someone. Of course, the one bite rule is not exclusive in deciding whether an owner is liable. There are many different ways to determine the dog owner’s responsibility for injuries and damages such as the owner’s knowledge of the dog’s temperament, behavior, and where the incident occurred. In other words, if the owner knows that the dog has or can be aggressive and could bite, but does nothing to prevent such actions, the owner should be held liable.
Dogs Considered Dangerous
A dog’s aggressiveness towards humans is considered when determining if a dog is dangerous. Even if the dog has never bitten before, but it is thought to be dangerous based on factors like the breed of dog, a Pitbull or Rottweiler for example when an injury occurs the owner can still be held responsible. Dogs can be considered a potential danger to people if one or more of the following things has happened:
- The dog has a natural predisposition to be aggressive based on its breed.
- The dog has an overly aggressive manner when confined in a fenced or enclosed area.
- The dog behaves aggressively towards people or domestic animals without being provoked.
Dangerous Dog Laws and Owner Liability
In New Mexico, it is against the law to own a dog that is vicious or known to be dangerous unless that dog is confined so that it cannot harm humans or other animals. As an attorney who deals with people suffering from dog bite injuries, I advise my clients that if a known dangerous dog causes serious injury to a person or animal, the owner of that dog can and should face serious penalties. Owners of a known dangerous dog that kills another animal are guilty of a 4th degree felony.
Although there are many defenses dog owners can use if they believe their dog was provoked or that a specific reason or action led to a bite, liability will depend on many factors. Those who have been injured by a dog should speak with a lawyer who is experienced in handling dog bite claims and can help determine if there are grounds for a claim.
Pofahl Law Firm, P.C.
3736 Eubank Blvd. NE Suite D
Albuquerque NM 87111