Albuquerque Dog Bite Lawyer Discusses Your Right to Compensation for Your Injuries
The physical injuries that result from a dog bite attack almost always are accompanied by psychological and emotional injuries. The trauma caused by these “invisible” injuries may linger long after the physical injuries heal. If you or a loved one was bitten or otherwise injured by a dog a knowledgeable Albuquerque dog bite lawyer at Khayoumi Law Firm may be able to help you obtain reasonable compensation for the harm you have suffered.
A Dog Owner’s Liability
New Mexico does not have a specific “dog bite law,” but a dog owner may be held responsible for injuries caused by his dog if:
The owner knew of the dog’s dangerous propensities.
A dog owner can be held liable (responsible) for injuries caused by his dog if he knew, or should have known, of the dog’s dangerous propensities. If, for example, the dog bites someone, then the owner is on notice of the dog’s propensity to bite and will be held responsible if the dog bites another person in the future. This is commonly referred to as the “one free bite” rule because the dog and the owner get one “free” bite before liability attaches. This premise extends to other behaviors that may cause injury. Thus, if the dog previously has jumped up and knocked a person to the ground, the dog owner is on notice of this behavior and will be liable in the future if the dog knocks a person down and causes injury to that person.
The owner was negligent.
“Negligence” means acting in a way that is unreasonably careless or failing to act in the way a reasonably careful person would under the circumstances. A dog owner may be liable for injuries caused by his dog, even if he had no prior knowledge of the dog’s propensity to injure, if he is negligent in controlling his dog or in keeping other persons safe around the dog.
The dog is a “dangerous dog,” as a matter of law.
New Mexico’s Dangerous Dog Act (NMSA §77-1A-1 et al.) defines a “dangerous dog” as one that caused a serious injury (a physical injury that results in broken bones, multiple bites or disfiguring lacerations requiring sutures or reconstructive surgery) to a person or domestic animal. A “potentially dangerous dog” is a dog that reasonably may be assumed to pose a threat to public safety as demonstrated by the following behaviors:
- Causing an injury that is less severe than a serious injury;
- Chasing or menacing a person in an aggressive manner and without provocation; or
- Acting in a highly aggressive manner within a fenced yard or enclosure and appearing able to jump out of the yard or enclosure.
If you are bitten or otherwise injured by dangerous or potentially dangerous dog, the owner may be held responsible on either of the grounds discussed above – either that he knew of the dog’s dangerous propensities (even if the dog had not previously bitten someone; dangerous dogs do not get a “free” bite); or that he was negligent. The Dangerous Dog Act imposes specific registration and handling requirements for these dogs; an owner’s failure to comply with these requirements may, on its face, constitute unreasonably careless behavior. (The City of Albuquerque has its own dangerous dog law, known as Angel’s Law, under which the owner also might be liable.)
If you are able to establish the dog owner’s liability for your injuries, then you are entitled to monetary compensation for the harm you have endured. In legal terms, this compensation is called “damages.” Damages in a dog bite are intended to compensate you for your economic and non-economic losses, including:
- Past and future medical expenses associated with your physical, mental, emotional and psychological injuries;
- Lost wages;
- Loss of earning capacity; and
- Pain and suffering.
The physical injuries associated with a dog bite include cuts, bruises, puncture wounds, infection, nerve damage, and scarring. The emotional and psychological injuries may include symptoms of PTSD (including nightmares; a fear of dogs or of going outside; panic attacks, anxiety); depression; and embarrassment, shame, or self-esteem issues related to disfigurement, scarring or nerve damage. These emotional and psychological injuries can linger for a significant period of time and may be more severe in children.
We can help
An experienced Albuquerque dog bite lawyer can help you gather the evidence you need to establish the full extent of your damages. We can:
- Visit the scene of attack;
- Interview witnesses;
- Obtain all records related to the dog; and
- Obtain your medical records and other documents critical to proving the nature and severity of your injuries.
We will use this information to prepare a persuasive settlement package and negotiate just compensation for the harm done to you. If negotiations fail to produce a reasonable settlement offer from the insurance company, then we will file a lawsuit and take your case to a jury.
Contact Salim Khayoumi, Dog Bite Attorney, Albuquerque
If you or a loved one is injured by a dog, contact an experienced Albuquerque dog bite lawyer at Khayoumi Law Firm. We’ll schedule a time to meet with you, free of charge, to discuss the events leading up to the attack, your current situation, and your legal options. You can reach us online, via the form on this page, or call us at 505-333-8613.