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Dogs are the most popular pet in America by a substantial margin. In fact, according to the Insurance Information Institute, over 60 million US households own a dog, which is over 10 million more than cats, the next most popular pet. However, this high rate of dog ownership does have downsides. From the City of Albuquerque’s website, current estimates place the number of people bitten by a dog each year in the US at about 2% of the population, or about 4.7 million people per year. Contacting an Albuquerque dog bite attorney is a good first step in seeking the compensation that you may be entitled to after a dog bite.
TYPES OF DOG BITE LAWSUITS
No two dog bite claims will ever be the same. Determining the type of dog bite claim that you will be filing is an important first step in seeking maximum compensation for your injuries.
The first image that comes to mind when thinking about dog bites for many people may be the image of an aggressive dog breaking free from their restraints and biting their victim out of spite. However, this is not always the case. A dog may become aggressive towards another dog, and a human who attempts to intervene can very easily be bitten themselves.
Non-Aggressive Dog Bite Incidents
Dogs do not even need to act aggressively to cause injuries. They may bite as a result of engaging in overly rough play. They may also bite as a result of instinct, such as a herding dog who is attempting to “herd” a small child.
Children Bitten by Dogs
Dealing with a child who has been bitten by a dog can be especially complex. For one, children cannot often defend themselves in the same way that an adult might be able to, which means that they may be susceptible to suffering more severe injuries. Children may also require treatment to deal with mental and emotional suffering, like PTSD.
Most injuries stemming from a dog bite have to do with the ripping and tearing from a dog’s teeth. However, injuries can quickly move past simple puncture wounds and become very serious, and sometimes life-threatening.
Dog bites can sometimes create irregular, open wounds that are difficult to fix with stitches or sutures. Dog bites also present the risk of infection because of the bacteria that might be present in a dog’s mouth at the time of the bite.
Facial injuries are some of the most commonly suffered by dog bite victims. Facial bites can lead to the victim having to have multiple surgeries and sets of stitches. Facial injuries can also include fractured skulls and jawbones, eye injuries, broken noses, and other injuries.
Dogs, depending on the breed and size, can have surprisingly strong jaws. As a result, dog bites can move past breaking the skin and can sometimes crush or damage internal organs and muscles. These sorts of injuries can result in crippling and/or permanent damage.
WHAT TO DO AFTER BEING BITTEN BY A DOG
1. Seek Medical Attention
First and foremost, it is important to address your injuries by going to a doctor. A qualified medical professional may be able to address the extent and severity of your injuries and set you on the path towards recovery. As you attend doctor’s visits, make sure to keep detailed records of your injuries, diagnosis, and treatment. This information can be crucial in obtaining compensation by establishing the link between the dog bite and the injuries that you suffered.
2. Document the Incident
After you have gotten the appropriate medical attention for your injuries, you should thoroughly document the incident. This can include getting the contact information for the owner of the dog and any witnesses, taking pictures of the dog, your injuries, and the surrounding environment, and keeping track of your medical records as you receive treatment.
3. Report the Incident
It is also important to report the dog bite to the appropriate Albuquerque authorities. Helpful information on this step can be found here on the city of Albuquerque’s website. Reporting the incident to the proper authorities can also help you discover if the dog has bitten someone before or otherwise displayed aggressive behaviors.
4. Contact an Albuquerque Dog Bite Attorney
One of the most important steps, if not the most important step, after being bitten by a dog will be to contact an experienced Albuquerque dog bite lawyer. You should contact an attorney as soon as possible to help explore your options. Your attorney may also be able to help you accurately value your case and determine your best course of action moving forward.
Determining liability is a critical component of every personal injury case. When a party is “liable” for damages, it means that they are responsible to pay for any of the injuries and financial implications thereof for the injured party. Generally, this will require proving that the party you are looking to recover damages from had a duty to act a certain way and failed to live up to this standard.
In a dog bite case in Albuquerque, the important term to know is the “one bite rule.” New Mexico is what is known as a “one bite” state. This means that, when it comes to dog bites, an owner can only be held liable if they had reason to know that their dog had a propensity for acting aggressively. In essence, a dog owner gets “one bite” before they are punished—the first bite puts them on notice that their dog is prone to biting, and the second bite can result in their liability for the injuries that are caused by their dog.
Read More: Albuquerque Premises Liability Lawyers
FILING A DOG BITE CLAIM
Filing a dog bite claim could be the best, and sometimes only, way to get fair compensation for your injuries. The first and most important step in this process will likely be to seek the guidance of an experienced Albuquerque dog bite attorney. They may be able to handle the dog bite lawsuit while keeping you up to date on all of the important developments in your case.
Contact an Attorney
You should contact an Albuquerque personal injury lawyer as soon as you can after an accident, especially if you or your loved one’s injuries were severe. An attorney may offer advice as to whether you should pursue a personal injury claim against the dog’s owner. Your attorney may also help preserve important evidence and gather documentation to support your claim.
Investigating the details of your case is the next step in filing a claim and seeking compensation. Before your attorney will be able to give you any sort of guidance as to what your case might be worth or advice on how to move forward, they will need to conduct a thorough investigation. This investigation will likely include interviewing or deposing any witnesses, looking into the history of the dog owner, and analyzing medical records.
Negotiation and Settlement
Most dog bites in Albuquerque will end in a settlement. Going to trial takes a lot of time and preparation, and the parties can typically reach an agreement before going in front of a judge in a trial to resolve things. At this stage, it is critical to have a qualified lawyer on your side who may be able to harness their experience and training to argue persuasively for maximum compensation from the other parties involved.
Learn More: How to Negotiate with an Insurance Company
DOG BITE COMPENSATION
For most dog bite victims, one of their main questions is, “How much is my lawsuit worth?” This question is impossible to answer without addressing the specific details that make your claim unique, but any compensation that you may receive will come from two main categories.
Economic damages are the damages you incur that can be proven and tied to actual, measurable losses. They include costs like medical bills, costs to replace any property that may have been damaged, and lost wages from being unable to work due to your injury.
Non-economic damages are not able to be tied to an objective, measurable number like economic damages—they include the pain and suffering that you experience as a result of your injuries. Though they may be more difficult to attach a number to, non-economic damages will generally be higher the worse your injuries are.
LEGAL TIME LIMITS
Every personal injury claim has an associated statute of limitations, which is the legal term for how long you have to file a claim based on a given incident. In New Mexico, the statute of limitations for filing a dog bite claim is three years, which means that you have three years from the date of your dog bite to file a lawsuit. There may be exceptions to this rule that an Albuquerque dog bite lawyer can explain, but generally, it is advisable to file your claim as soon as possible to avoid running into any problems.
CONTACT THE ALBUQUERQUE DOG BITE ATTORNEYS AT ZINDA LAW GROUP TODAY
Zinda Law Group has the resources of a large firm combined with the individualized attention of a boutique operation. We believe dog bite victims shouldn’t need to worry about being able to afford legal representation, which is why we offer a no-win, no-fee policy—you don’t pay us anything until we win your case.
Meetings with attorneys by appointment only.