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Dog Bite

If you, a family member or the family pet has been bitten by a dog, getting coverage for needed medical treatment and tests, as well as any trauma and suffering, only seems fair. But everyone doesn’t play be the same code of fairness.

Dogs can be loving pets, but also dangerous animals.

Dogs are beautiful animals and wonderful companions, but it’s important to remember that they are still animals – and many can and will bite.

More than 4 million Americans are bitten by dogs every year, and according to the Centers for Disease Control, one out of every five of those bites causes an injury that requires medical attention.

As can be expected, young children (between the ages of five and nine years) are the most frequent bite victims.

Although most of the time people are bitten by a dog they know – sometimes, it’s their own family pet. But to prevent dog bites overall, even at home, follow these simple steps:

  • When choosing a family pet, pick a dog with a good temperament.
  • Stay away from dogs you don’t know.
  • Never leave your child alone with a dog – especially an unfamiliar one.
  • Don’t try to play with any dog that is eating or feeding her puppies.
  • When approaching a dog, go slow and give the dog a chance to approach you.
  • If a dog becomes aggressive, do not run away or scream. Stay calm, move slowly, and don’t make eye contact.

I’ve been bitten by another person’s dog – what do I do?

If you or a family member is bitten by another person’s dog, the most important thing is to first seek medical attention. While some bits are superficial and can be treated at home, it’s very important that you see a doctor. This is even more imperative if it was a dog you don’t know, if the bite is deep or won’t stop bleeding, or if there are signs of infection. The doctor will be asking questions about the dog – for example, if you know the owner and if the dog is up-to-date on all vaccinations. He or she might also ask if the dog bite happened because the dog was provoked, and if the person bitten has any other medical conditions. Your doctor might also recommend that you get tested for rabies and perhaps even a tetanus shot. Antibiotics might also be prescribed.

Secondly, report the attack to local authorities and/or your area’s animal control department. If you are able, get the name of the dog’s owner, the name of the dog, and a description of the dog, as well as the location of where the attack happened. If there is no owner present, or if the dog appears to be a stray, the location and description of the dog is even more important.

As soon as possible, take detailed photos of any bites or other injuries. Also, take pictures of the dog, the location of the incident, and any other damages that were part of the attack (clothing, etc.). This will be beneficial for the authorities and for you in the case that you go to court.

Should I pursue legal action for dog bite?

If you or a family member is bitten by a dog that isn’t yours, there are options available to you for compensation for pain, suffering and medical expenses. Legally, the state of New Mexico is what’s called a “one bite” state, which means liability is based on knowledge of the dog’s viciousness; or on negligence by the dog’s owner. There isn’t a dog bite state statute; instead, the law is based on two different scenarios.

  1. The “one bite rule”: this means that a dog owner is liable for damages caused by his or her dog if the owner knew, or should have down, that the dog was vicious or had a tendency to be vicious. While this puts a strict liability on the dog owner, the key is if the dog’s owner didn’t know (or couldn’t have come to the conclusion) that the dog had the tendency to bite or injure people. If this is found to be the case, there is no liability to the person who was bitten.
  2. Negligence: New Mexico law says a dog owner is liable if his or her negligence caused injury to the victim. This means that even if the dog owner didn’t know the dog could be viscous, he or she can be held liable if the dog was not controlled properly.

As you can see, a dog bite case can be a complicated situation. It’s always best to consult with one of our attorneys regarding dog attacks. We can listen to your story, look at your photos, doctor’s bills and other evidence, and best advise you on your next steps. Contact us today for a free consultation on your dog bite case.