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Dogs are often referred to as man’s best friend. However, dog bite accidents can and do occur. Such accidents may result in the victim needing extensive medical care. Thankfully, victims of a dog bite attack may be able to seek compensation for their injuries by filing a claim against the dog’s owner or another responsible party.
If you have been the victim of a dog bite and are interested in pursuing legal action, or to learn more about your rights following a dog bite accident, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 to receive a free case evaluation with one of our experienced Las Cruces dog bite attorneys.
COMMON CAUSES OF DOG BITE ACCIDENTS
A dog attack can occur for many reasons. Understanding the reasons why a dog may attack a person may help prevent a future dog bite from occurring. Listed below are some of the common causes of dog bite accidents.
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Many dog bite accidents occur because the animal was provoked. Examples of actions that may provoke a dog include hitting, yelling, barking, chasing, and teasing. A dog who is provoked may feel intimidated or threatened and may react by attacking the provoker.
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Dogs are territorial creatures by nature. As a result, many dogs may feel the need to protect their owners, food, toys, and territory. If someone tries to grab a dog’s toy or approach a dog’s litter, the animal may instinctively try to protect itself by biting or chasing the person.
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Horseplay is another common cause of dog bite accidents. Even playful engagement with a dog may lead to unwanted aggressiveness after a while. It is important to realize that even friendly dogs may be provoked after rough horseplay.
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Wild or Rabid Dog
Dog bite accidents may occur even if you take all proper precautions. A dog that is untrained, wild, neglected, or abused may spontaneously attack an unwitting person. Thus, it is very important to be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to dogs who are loose or exhibiting signs of aggressiveness.
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The most common injury associated with a dog bite is a flesh wound that is caused by the dog’s teeth sinking into the victim’s skin. In some cases, the wound may be small. In other cases, the wound can lead to immediate bleeding and bruising. Regardless of the severity of the injury, it is a wise decision to seek prompt medical attention after a dog bite attack.
A serious dog bite can be more than just a flesh wound. Such bites often result in damage to the victim’s muscles or nerves. These types of injuries are especially common when the dog is a larger breed such as a pit bull, rottweiler, or German shepherd. Damage to the muscles and nerves may require stitches or rehabilitative treatment.
In addition to potential skin and nerve wounds, a dog bite may also lead to infection. The risk of infection increases with time. If a wound is not promptly and properly treated, infection may result.
Rabies is caused by a virus that enters a person’s nervous system and causes inflammation to a person’s brain. A dog who has rabies may transfer the virus to a human by biting or scratching. The symptoms of rabies are flu-like in nature and may include fever and muscle weakness. Although rabies is treatable, time is of the essence after a dog attack.
WHAT TO DO AFTER BEING BITTEN BY A DOG
1. Seek Medical Attention
The first step you should take after being bitten by a dog is to seek immediate medical attention. Because even small bites may pose future health concerns, medical attention should be sought even in cases where the injury does not appear to be severe.
2. File a Report and Document the Accident
The next step you should take after being bitten by a dog is to file a report with the police or the appropriate local animal control agency, particularly if the dog is not yours. Filing a report will create an official record of the accident and may help prevent future attacks.
3. Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
Finally, you should contact a personal injury lawyer. This is the next step toward filing and resolving a dog bite claim. A Las Cruces dog bite lawyer may gather the facts of your case, search for and collect important evidence, and file any paperwork to ensure that a lawsuit is timely filed.
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New Mexico is one of the few states in the country that does not have a specific dog bite liability statute. Rather, New Mexico dog bite laws follow rules set by the courts of the state. Based on the decisions set forth by these courts, New Mexico uses a combination of “one bite” and negligence rules to decide liability in dog bite cases.
The “one bite” rule focuses on what the dog’s owner knew about the dog’s tendency for violence. For a dog owner to be held liable for a dog bite attack, a dog bite victim must be able to establish that the dog’s owner knew the dog was violent or aggressive. One way a dog bite victim can accomplish this is by proving that the dog had previously bitten someone else, thus satisfying the “one bite” rule. A dog bite victim may also offer other evidence which shows that the dog has acted aggressively in other ways, and that the owner knew or should have known about that behavior. However, acts of aggression must have been directed towards humans; evidence that a dog has acted aggressively toward other animals is insufficient to establish the knowledge of aggressiveness required to hold the dog’s owner liable for injuries.
New Mexico also allows dog bite victims to file negligence-based actions. In contrast to focusing on a dog owner’s knowledge regarding the dog’s aggressive nature, negligence cases focus on whether the dog exercised reasonable care to prevent a dog bite injury. To succeed in a negligence action, the dog bite victim must establish that the dog owner knew or should have known about the dog’s aggressiveness but failed to use reasonable care to control or restrain the dog in a way that would prevent injury.
DOG BITE COMPENSATION
If a personal injury lawsuit is brought against the dog owner, the dog owner or his insurance company may face the possibility of having to compensate the victim for harm suffered as a result of the dog attack. This harm is referred to as “damages.” The types of damages that may be available to a dog bite victim fall into two separate categories: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages refer to losses that can be calculated or quantified. The primary economic damages at issue in a dog bite lawsuit may include:
- Medical and pharmacy bills
- Future medical costs
- Lost income and wages
- Future lost income
- Loss of earning capacity
Non-economic damages are intangible losses that cannot be easily quantified. Non-economic damages are subjectively evaluated by the jury in a dog bite lawsuit. Types of non-economic damages in a dog bite lawsuit may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
Learn More: How to Calculate the Value of Case
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
A “statute of limitations” is a legal time-limit on which a person must file a lawsuit. If a person fails to bring a claim within the applicable statute of limitations, that person may be effectively barred from litigating the claim in court.
Statutes of limitations for personal injury claims such as those filed after a dog bite vary from state to state. New Mexico has a three-year statute of limitations. Thus, for example, if a person was injured due to a dog bite attack on January 1, 2020, that person must file a lawsuit by January 1, 2023. Certain circumstances may also extend or “toll” the applicable statute of limitations.
Because filing a timely lawsuit is critical to the outcome of your case, it is important to consider discussing your case with a personal injury attorney.
WHY HIRE A ZINDA DOG BITE ATTORNEY
Zinda Law Group’s team of Las Cruces personal injury lawyers may fight on your behalf. In addition to years of experience representing dog bite accident victims, our firm may provide zealous and dedicated representation to help protect your rights following a dog bite attack. Attorneys at Zinda Law Group may offer:
New Mexico’s dog bite laws are complex. Dog bite claims by their very nature also involve many moving parts. A Zinda dog bite lawyer may listen to the facts of your case and provide valuable legal guidance, taking into consideration these complex legal aspects.
Excellent Client Service
At Zinda Law Group, we pride ourselves on providing exemplary and unparalleled service to each and every one of our clients. Throughout the entire representation, from the initial consultation up to the disposition of the case, our attorneys may guide you through the claim filing process.
A dog bite claim may only be as strong as the resources used to support it. Thankfully, at Zinda Law Group, we have access to many resources that may be used to build a claim. Our offices have handled large and complex cases, conducting thorough interviews with the necessary parties, hiring expert witnesses, and utilizing state of the art technology.
Negotiation and Trial Advocacy
Our team of New Mexico attorneys may help you secure fair compensation. This means that our team may fiercely negotiate with insurance companies and opposing counsel. If the case is litigated in court, a dog bite attorney may advocate for you, always keeping your situation and best interests in mind. You don’t pay us anything unless we win your case.
If you are interested in pursuing legal action, or to learn more about your rights following a dog bite attack, call the Las Cruces dog bite attorneys at Zinda Law Group today at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation.
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AWARDED TO JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA BY THE NATIONAL TRIAL LAWYERS ASSOCIATION (2016-2020)
AWARDED TO JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA (2009, 2011-2012, 2014-2021), JOE CAPUTO (2019-2021), BURGESS WILLIAMS (2019-2020), & NEIL SOLOMON (2020-2021)
AWARDED TO JACK ZINDA (2016-2020), JOE CAPUTO (2016 – 2020) & BURGESS WILLIAMS (2016-2017)
LIFETIME MEMBERS JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA & JOE CAPUTO
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