Albuquerque Dog Bite Attorney
A dog bite incident can be permanently scarring – physically and emotionally. If you suffered serious personal injuries, expensive medical bills, lost income, and/or psychological trauma in a recent dog attack in Albuquerque, you may have grounds to file a claim against the pet owner for damages. New Mexico law could make you eligible for financial recovery.
If you suffered an injury or a loved one died because of a dog bite or attack, contact the Albuquerque personal injury attorneys at The Fine Law Firm. During your free consultation, you can learn the value of your case, your rights as a dog bite victim, and your available legal actions against the party responsible for your injuries. Call (505) 889-FINE for your case review today.
Why Choose Us?
The Fine Law Firm has a long history of outstanding case results. We have secured multimillion-dollar settlements for dozens of clients in our 40-plus years of experience. Clients throughout New Mexico trust us with their most complex dog bite claims.
- We have a 99% success rate.
- We provide personal attention to each case.
- We only charge fees if we win.
- We offer candid advice to clients.
Our attorneys have the experience, drive, and compassion to provide exceptional legal representation in a dog bite case. We aren’t afraid to take a case to trial if that’s in the client’s best interests.
Why Do You Need a Dog Bite Lawyer?
Navigating a dog bite claim can be complicated. The pet owner may deny fault or tell a story that contradicts yours to escape liability. His or her insurance company may also try to stop your claim, denying or delaying it unfairly. The best way to even the playing field and make sure you get the recovery your damages demand is by hiring a lawyer. One of our dog bite attorneys can guide you through the legal process, representing your best interests at every step.
An attorney can increase your chances of achieving a fair settlement from a pet owner’s insurance provider, getting you the money that you need to pay for necessary medical care. A law firm will have the resources and personnel to investigate the attack, collect evidence, hire qualified experts to support your case, negotiate for maximum financial compensation and even take your case to trial in Albuquerque, if necessary. A lawyer will take care of every aspect of your dog bite injury case while you focus on healing.
Common Dog Bite Injuries
When a dog attacks, the physical harm it inflicts can be devastating. Dogs attack on instinct and may not stop until they are pulled off of a victim. Depending on the size and type of dog, the injuries inflicted can be catastrophic or fatal. Sadly, every year, many victims lose their lives in dog attacks throughout the country. Children and the elderly are especially at risk of suffering severe dog bite injuries. Some of the most common dog bite injuries include:
- Surface cuts or deeper lacerations
- Puncture wounds
- Soft-tissue injuries
- Nerve damage
- Severed arteries
- Bone fractures
- Crush injuries
- Facial injuries
- Eye injuries
- Infections and diseases
- Scarring and permanent disfigurement
- Psychological and emotional trauma
Injuries caused by a dog’s teeth can lead to infections due to the amount of bacteria in a dog’s mouth. These injuries can also cause permanent scarring that can impact a victim’s self-image, confidence and quality of life. In the most severe cases, a dog attack can cause life-threatening injuries or take a victim’s life. Anyone who is injured in a dog attack in New Mexico may be eligible for financial compensation to pay for necessary medical care and other expenses.
Causes of Dog Bites
Dog bites are preventable. It is up to the pet owner to take steps to prevent an attack, such as putting up a fence or leash-curbing the animal. Dog bites most often occur when a dog escapes its owner or confines, or through negligent animal control. Letting a dog run at large or failing to properly supervise children around dogs can also lead to attacks. If an owner has a pet off-leash in an area where the law stipulates leashed dogs only, for example, the owner has been negligent in preventing an attack.
In Albuquerque, a city ordinance referred to as HEART (Humane and Ethical Animal Rules and Treatment) requires dogs to be on a leash no longer than eight feet and in the hands of someone capable of controlling the dog. This rule applies to all public places, other than areas that are marked no-leash zones, such as enclosed dog parks. If a dog is not on a leash, it must be restricted at all times by a fence, enclosure or vehicle. If a pet owner fails to properly control or leash-curb a dog and this results in a dog bite injury, the owner has been negligent.
Dog Bite Laws
New Mexico does not have a specific dog bite statute. This means victims have two grounds for recovery: the one-bite rule and negligence. If the owner knew or should have known of the dog’s vicious inclinations, he or she may be liable for damages. The one-bite rule states a pet owner is liable for an attack by a dog who had previously bitten someone else or showed signs of viciousness or aggressive behavior. In this case, the owner reasonably should have known that the dog might bite someone and should have taken steps to prevent such an attack.
If the owner was negligent in some way that caused the dog attack, liability can also fall on him or her. In personal injury law, negligence means that someone failed to use proper care to prevent harm to others. An example of negligence in a dog bite injury case is a pet owner failing to keep a dog on a leash in a public park. If another pet owner would have done something differently to prevent the incident, the owner in question could be held liable for the attack.
In a dog bite injury case in New Mexico, the burden of proof rests with the filing party: the injured accident victim. The burden of proof is the responsibility to establish that the claim being made is more likely to be true than not true. This is known as a preponderance of the evidence, and it is a lesser burden of proof than in a criminal case. As the plaintiff in a dog bite injury lawsuit, it is up to you or your attorney to prove the grounds of your case using clear and convincing evidence.
If you base your case against a dog owner on negligence, you have to establish three elements: the owner owed you a duty of care, violated this duty and caused the dog bite injury. Proving someone else’s negligence and liability for your dog bite incident may take obtaining evidence such as witness statements and medical records. You may need to investigate the dog’s background of violence to prove your case under the one-bite rule. You must also prove the type and extent of your injuries and losses. An Albuquerque dog bite lawyer from Fine Law Firm can help with your burden of proof while you focus on recovering.
Who Is Liable?
Dogs are property in the state of New Mexico. This makes them the owner’s responsibility. Pet owners are liable for dog attacks and dog bite injuries, in most cases. The owner, handler or person in control of the dog at the time of the attack could be liable for your dog bite damages according to the situation. Other potentially liable parties could include the owner of the land where the bite occurred or a third party (e.g., someone who provoked the dog to attack).
A property owner, including a landlord, could bear liability for a dog bite injury if they did not properly ensure the safety of a premises for visitors and guests. If a landlord allowed a dangerous dog to live in an apartment, for example, the landlord could be legally responsible for a related attack. If someone else involved in the incident is at fault for causing the attack, such as a third party who provoked the dog, this person could be held accountable instead. An attorney can investigate your case to determine liability.
Does Homeowners Insurance Pay for Dog Bite Injuries?
If a pet owner is found liable for a dog bite injury, his or her homeowners insurance will most likely pay for the damages. Homeowners insurance covers a policyholder’s property. Under New Mexico law, this includes pets and dogs. If the policyholder’s dog bites someone, whether on the individual’s property or not, the homeowners insurance company will most likely cover the related costs. If the pet owner has renters insurance, this may cover the incident instead. Some policies have exclusions for dog bite injuries. A lawyer can investigate all potential sources of financial compensation to help you choose the best option.
Will a Dog Be Euthanized for Attacking Someone in New Mexico?
If you are reluctant to contact an attorney or file an official claim against a pet owner for a dog attack due to concerns that the dog will be euthanized, know that this is a very uncommon outcome in New Mexico. In most cases, reporting a dog attack to the local animal control authorities and bringing a claim will only result in a mandatory quarantine of the dog (typically at home) for 14 days to check for rabies.
If the animal has a long history of viciousness, the authorities may give it the designation of a “dangerous dog.” This will result in additional responsibilities given to the pet owner, such as having to use a muzzle when walking the dog or attending mandatory pet obedience training courses. A dog is only euthanized after biting someone in extreme circumstances, such as if the dog killed someone. In this case, a trial will generally be held to determine the dog’s fate.
Financial Compensation Available for a Dog Bite Injury
A successful dog bite injury claim could repay you for all of the economic losses associated with the attack, such as a trip to the emergency room, stitches, surgeries and follow-up appointments. You may also be eligible for noneconomic damages, such as mental anguish and post-traumatic stress disorder. An insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit in New Mexico could result in compensation for all of the following, and more:
- Medical expenses
- Future necessary medical care
- Lost wages and ability to earn
- Property damage repairs
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional damage
- Psychological trauma
- Lost quality of life
- Loss of consortium
- Death benefits, in the event of a wrongful death
Discuss the value of your dog bite injury case with an attorney at The Fine Law Firm for an accurate evaluation of what it is worth. Unlike an insurance claims adjuster, an attorney wants what is best for you – to maximize your financial recovery instead of minimizing it. Our lawyers will use proven legal strategies to fight for the best possible case outcome on your behalf.
What Is the Time Limit for Filing a Dog Bite Claim in New Mexico?
In New Mexico, if you do not act within a certain amount of time to file a personal injury lawsuit after being attacked by a dog, you may forfeit the right to seek financial compensation. A law in New Mexico known as the statute of limitations gives claimants no more than two years to file their lawsuits. The clock typically starts ticking on the date of the dog bite injury, although it may be tolled (paused) in special circumstances. If the victim was a minor under the age of 18, for example, the victim will have two years from the date of his or her 18th birthday to file.
What to Do After a Dog Attack in Albuquerque
If you get attacked by a dog in Albuquerque, get the pet owner’s contact information and speak to eyewitnesses before you leave the scene. Go to a hospital immediately for professional medical care for your injuries. Take photos of your injuries while you heal. Then, report the incident to your local animal welfare office. When you’re ready, contact the pet owner’s insurance company to file a claim and demand financial compensation. If you run into any issues seeking fair benefits for a dog bite injury, contact an attorney for assistance.
Contact Us Today
Contact The Fine Law Firm after suffering a dog bite injury in Albuquerque. We may be able to help you recover financial compensation for your related losses. Schedule your free consultation today.