If you were hurt due to a dog bite, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries under New Mexico’s dog bite laws. A dog owner can be held strictly liable if they knew or should have known of the dog’s vicious nature. Other individuals caring for a dog can also be liable if their negligent actions caused the dog attack. However, this does not mean it will be easy to obtain the damages you deserve.
Five Defenses Raised in Dog Bite Cases
Even if the dog owner or other party was clearly negligent, their insurance company could raise defenses to try to deny your claim or pay you less money than you deserve. It is a good idea to understand the defenses that could be used in your case so that you can defend against them if it becomes necessary. Common defenses you could encounter include:
- Not the owner. Under New Mexico’s strict liability law, only the owner of the dog can be held responsible for compensating a victim. If the person with the dog at the time of the attack was not the owner, they could raise this defense.
- Provocation. Another common defense that insurance companies use is that the person who was bit provoked the attack by their actions, such as taunting the dog, attacking the animal, or hugging or petting them after the owner instructed them not to.
- Assumption of risk. The dog owner or handler could also claim that the victim assumed the risk of a dog bite. They would have to show that the victim should have understood the danger of being bitten and assumed the risk. For example, if a dog was barking at the individual and they entered a property anyway, this defense could be raised.
- Trespasser. If a person trespassed on a property at the time they were attacked, their ability to pursue a claim for compensation could be severely limited.
- Comparative negligence. The insurance adjuster could also claim that the person who was bitten was partially negligent in causing the attack. Under our state’s pure comparative negligence laws, a victim’s compensation would be reduced by their percentage of fault in causing the dog attack.
What Is the Best Way to Determine What Defenses Could Be Raised in Your Dog Bite Case?
If you or a family member were injured in a dog attack, you need to retain an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. They will collect the evidence you need to win your case and anticipate and defend against any defenses raised in your case. A lawyer will also go up against the insurance company to receive all that you deserve in your settlement. To find out how we can help you and to get your questions answered, call our Roswell office or fill out our online form to schedule your free initial consultation today.