Every state has its own rules about the obligations and responsibilities of pet owners. New Mexico does not have a specific statute about dog bites and owner liability on the books.
It is possible for people to build a case for liability after a vicious dog bite attack, but doing so will require planning and strategy, as there is no direct law that governs cases where dogs bite and injure humans in New Mexico. The City of Albuquerque does have certain rules in place regarding dangerous dogs, potentially dangerous dogs and irresponsible owners of dogs.
Understanding what rules apply in your situation and what rights you have will often require talking about the details of the dog bite attack with an attorney familiar with dog bite cases.
What were the circumstances of the dog attack?
Many factors will influence your rights in New Mexico after a dog attacks and bites you or a loved one. Were you illegally trespassing on someone else's property or otherwise engaged in a criminal act? That could limit your right to claim damages.
However, if you are on your own property, legally visiting someone or on public property, such as a sidewalk or a park, you would have a reasonable expectation of safety. Individuals who do not properly train and restrain their dogs may be liable for the injuries those dogs cause others.
If a dog ran up and bit you or a family member at a park, the owner may be responsible. The same is true if a dog with a history of aggressive behavior snaps at you or one of your children, leaving a serious or disfiguring injury.
Can you show the owner knew the dog posed a threat?
Generally speaking, claims relating to dog bite attacks will require some kind of proof that the owner knew the dog was dangerous. Anything from "beware of dog" signs posted on the property to verbal admissions from the owner that the dog has previously injured other people could be enough to demonstrate that the owner knew the dog posed a threat to others.
Did the dog cause serious injury to you or a loved one?
When a dog bites and all someone needs is an adhesive bandage and topical antibiotic ointment, the victim in that case likely doesn't have much of a case to bring to court. However, when a dog bite attack causes a serious injury, such as major lacerations, broken bones or permanent disfigurement, the victim can reasonably tie certain medical expenses to the behavior of the dog and the responsibilities of the dog's owner.
The more severe the injuries, the stronger the grounds for bringing a case against the owner of a vicious dog. If you aren't sure whether your face merits legal action, an attorney can help you figure out what options you have.