Dog bites can be extremely serious injuries, resulting in infections, muscle damage, and disfigurement, requiring extensive treatment. If a dog has injured you, you may be able to recover damages from the owner.
If you work with a personal injury lawyer in Santa Fe, you may be able to streamline the claims process and increase the amount of money you receive in compensation.
If a dog has bitten you or a loved one, the experienced Santa Fe dog bite attorneys from Zinda Law Group can listen to your story, evaluate your claim, and help you decide what steps you can take next in a free consultation.
We’ve helped many dog bite victims to recover significant compensation, and we may be able to help you.
What to Do If You Have Been Bitten by a Dog
1. Seek Medical Attention
If you have been bitten by a dog, you should immediately seek medical attention. Dog bites may result in serious injuries if left untreated and may result in severe complications. Along with the visible damage done by dog bites, infections are common and may continue to worsen until they are treated properly.
These infections may come from bacteria from the dog’s mouth when it breaks the skin, or they may occur after the bite if the wound is not immediately treated with proper medical attention. Dog bites may expose you to rabies, which may be fatal if untreated.
2. Contact Local Animal Control
After a dog bite, you should contact Santa Fe Animal Services as soon as possible. Animal control will be able to respond to the situation and secure the dog to ensure nobody else is harmed.
They may then begin to investigate the accident. Animal control may also be able to determine if the dog is licensed and has received the proper rabies vaccinations, as well as if it has received any prior reports of biting anyone.
3. Collect and Document Evidence
Document any evidence that may be available. You should collect the contact information of anybody who may have witnessed the dog bite you, and you should also attempt to document the incident as soon as possible, including:
- The dog’s behavior
- Your own behavior leading up to the incident
- Whether the dog was on a leash or otherwise secured
- Whether it bit you on a sidewalk, in public, or on private property
- Any medical costs incurred while receiving treatment for your injuries
4. Consult an Attorney
You should consult a Santa Fe dog bite lawyer as soon as possible if you have been bitten by a dog. An experienced lawyer may help you determine who may be liable in a dog bite claim and how much compensation you may be entitled to.
Dog bite cases can be complex, and the pet owner or the insurance company may try to blame you for provoking the attack. An animal bite lawyer may be able to help you navigate these complexities and help you take the appropriate legal action.
For a free legal consultation with a dog bite lawyer serving Santa Fe, call 800-863-5312
Dog Bite Injuries Can Be Severe and Have a Lifelong Impact on the Victim
Dog bites can cause a variety of physical and emotional injuries that can linger long after the initial wound has healed. Some common injuries we claim in animal attack cases include:
Scarring and Disfigurement
Scarring or disfigurement is common, even if a dog does not have its teeth completely embedded into the skin.
Even the smallest nicks and scratches on the surface of the skin can lead to infections, which can spread if left untreated.
Lacerations and Cuts
In more serious cases, deep cuts, lacerations, and puncture wounds may cause nerve damage or harm tissues, bones, or tendons in the affected area.
In some cases, the attack is so serious that it results in bone fractures. The powerful jaws of a large dog can easily crush bones in a child, or victims can break bones when falling to the ground during an attack.
In addition to these physical injuries caused by dog bites, certain illnesses can be contracted as a result. Rabies is one of the most commonly known diseases that can be caused by exposure to an infected animal’s saliva or even being scratched or bitten in general.
Other illnesses, such as Pasteurellosis and infection, may occur due to contact with an infected animal’s saliva, which could lead to fever, joint pain, and even difficulty breathing.
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Is the Dog Owner Liable for Dog Bite Injuries?
In New Mexico, the injured party may seek compensation for their injuries from the owner of the dog under either strict liability or negligence claims.
One Bite Rule
As there are no specific dog bite statutes in New Mexico, the one-bite rule is used in many cases to hold the dog’s owner liable for any injuries. If the owner of a dog knew or should have known the dog was dangerous, they may be liable for all injuries the dog caused.
A dog may be considered dangerous if it has previously bitten a person or has shown aggressive tendencies. The breed type may also be a factor in determining if the dog is considered dangerous, as some breeds, such as pit bulls, may be considered dangerous, even without prior aggressive behavior.
The owner of a dangerous dog is responsible for properly restraining the dog and taking proper precautions to prevent the dog from injuring anyone. If the owner owns a dog that is considered dangerous, strict liability may apply.
This means that the owner is liable for all damages resulting from injuries caused by their dog and may not be able to avoid liability by claiming the dog was provoked nor will the victim need to prove the owner acted negligently in failing to prevent the dog bite.
Even if the dog responsible for your injuries was not previously considered to be dangerous, the negligent dog owners may still be liable for injuries caused by the dog. Negligent behavior may include:
- Failing to keep the dog on a leash
- Allowing the dog to roam freely
- Failing to provide a proper enclosure for the dog
Five elements must generally be proven to prove negligence and determine liability: ownership, duty of care, breach of duty, and causation.
First, you must prove that the defendant is the dog’s owner, was in possession of the dog when the injury occurred, or owned the property where the dog attack occurred.
Duty of Care
Next, you must show that the owner of the dog owed the victim a duty of care. A duty of care is an obligation to take certain precautions to ensure an accident does not occur, such as making sure the dog is on a leash.
Breach of Duty
The owner of the dog must have breached this duty, meaning they failed to take precautions that may have prevented the incident. If a dog owner allows their dog to wander around without a leash in Santa Fe, this may allow a dog bite to occur.
Next, it must also be proven that the dog owner’s breach of duty was the proximate cause of the accident. This means that if not for the failure of the animal owner to take the proper precautions, the incident would not have occurred. For example, if the dog owner had properly restrained their dog, the dog would not have been able to bite the victim.
Finally, most negligence claims also require showing that you actually suffered damages as a result of the other party’s negligent behavior. In dog bite cases, this may be satisfied by showing the results of the injuries where the dog bit you.
It should be noted that in cases based on negligence, the dog owner may be able to attempt to defend themself by claiming the dog was provoked. A provoking action may include yelling at the dog, taunting the dog, as well as hitting or otherwise physically causing the dog pain or discomfort. A Santa Fe lawyer may help you determine if the dog owner may be liable for your injuries and help you seek the compensation you may be entitled to.
Compensation in a Dog Attack Claim
If you have been injured due to a dog bite, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries, including both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages in a personal injury claim may include:
You may be able to seek financial compensation for medical expenses. This can include hospital stays, therapy, reconstructive surgery, cosmetic surgery, and future expenses if your injury requires ongoing medical treatment.
If your injuries required you to miss work, you may be able to seek compensation for your loss of wages. If your injuries have left you unable to work, you may also claim your loss of potential income, which may be determined based on your general health before the incident, age, and job.
Non-economic damages can include:
Pain and Suffering
You may also be compensated for the physical pain, emotional distress, psychological trauma, and any disfigurement caused by the accident and its impact on your quality of life.
In rare cases, you may also be able to win punitive damages, based on how egregious the behavior was that caused your accident. A dog attack lawyer in Santa Fe can help you understand when these damages may apply.
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Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations governs how long you have to file a lawsuit. In New Mexico, you have three years from the date of the incident to file a claim for a dog bite attack.
Investigating your claim and attempting to negotiate with insurers to reach a settlement may require some time before you file the lawsuit. You should seek legal representation as soon as possible to ensure you file your claim within this window.
Should I Just Work With the Insurance Adjuster?
Most property owners have some insurance coverage under their home insurance policies, and their insurers will work hard to pay out as little as possible if anything. The insurer may attempt to drag out the process, hoping you will accept an offer that may be drastically lower than what you may be entitled to.
The insurance company may try to invalidate the severity of your injuries, blame you for the dog attack, or offer you a lowball settlement that will not cover the entirety of your damages. However, a lawyer can protect your interests in such circumstances.
By taking swift action, you can help provide your attorney with the adequate time required to investigate your claim to find evidence supporting your case. Your dog bite attorney in Santa Fe can negotiate aggressively on your behalf or file a personal injury lawsuit to demand full and fair compensation.
Get Help from a Dog Bite Law Firm in Santa Fe Today
A dog bite can quickly turn your life upside down, as you may find yourself suddenly facing mounting medical expenses and injuries that may impact you for the rest of your life. A Santa Fe dog bite attorney can provide legal advice and help you fight for the maximum compensation possible to help you rebuild your future.
At Zinda Law Group, our Santa Fe personal injury attorneys understand the legal obstacles in premises liability cases and can work to protect your interests and your bite injury claim.
Contact us for a free consultation. You will not pay anything unless we can win your dog bite case. That’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
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