Dog bites can be terrifying events that result in serious injuries and scarring.  However, in the state of New Mexico there is no dog bite statute.  There are, however, two tests to use to determine if you have a case after a dog bit you.  First, you can apply scienter.  Scienter is a legal term meaning intent or knowledge to commit wrongdoing.  In a dog bite case, it is often applied when a dog owner knew or should have known that his dog was dangerous.  If the owner knew his dog was a danger to others and, sure enough, his dog bites someone and injures them, the owner is liable.  Often these types of cases are pursued against a dog owner’s homeowner insurance policy.

There is a Uniform Jury Instruction in the state of New Mexico which states: “An owner of a dog is liable for damages proximately caused by the dog if the owner knew, or should have known, that the dog was vicious or had a tendency or natural inclination to be vicious.”  Of course, a person cannot evade responsibility when they provoke the dog they know to be dangerous.

The other test employed is whether the dog owner was negligent when the dog bit someone.  If the owner acted irresponsibly with the care of his dog, even though he didn’t know it had vicious tendencies, he can still be held liable.  For example, if an owner provoked a dog he’d never known to be dangerous into attacking someone and the dog actually did attack (perhaps to the owner’s surprise), the owner is liable.  Alternatively, if the owner fails to control or quarter the dog in a situation where he should have (like, perhaps, when an annual cat parade heads right down your street!) he will also face liability for the damage the dog causes.

Dog bites can be scary, bloody, and painful.  Dogs have such strong bites that they can leave permanent scarring or even worse.  They can happen in many different ways and in many different situations.  We can help work through the details to get you the compensation you deserve.


If you have been bitten by a dog, call Smith Templeman Law Firm.  We deal with dog bite cases regularly and we work to get you back into action with cash in your pocket.  Call us today for a FREE consultation at (505) 433-1583.