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What Happens if Your Dog Is Provoked and Attacks Someone?

What Happens if Your Dog Is Provoked and Attacks Someone?

Shapiro Law Team February 13, 2024 dog bite injury

Superior Representation. The Justice You Deserve.

A dog bite can happen in the blink of an eye, but the effects can last a lifetime. If your dog bites another person, you’ll likely experience a range of different emotions.

Anger, sadness, and disbelief are all normal emotional reactions—but you’re also probably wondering what the legal repercussions are if your dog was provoked. Even though the dog owner is typically held liable for an attack, provocation can change things.

If My Dog Was Provoked, Am I Still Liable for an Attack?

In New Mexico, provocation can be used as a defense against the dog bite victim. However, the dog owner must show that the victim’s actions deliberately incited the attack. The dog owner must also prove the victim knew the dog’s tendencies. These are often tough to prove which is why we recommend you call an experienced dog bite attorney.

What to Do After Your Dog Attacks Someone

1. Remove Your Dog

If your dog attacks someone, you should first remove the dog from the scene. Prevent further attacks by getting them to a safe, secure space where they can calm down.

2. Tend to the Victim’s Needs

Once the dog is in a secure space, check on the victim to make sure they get the medical attention they need. Even minor injuries can lead to major health scares such as bacterial infections.

3. Swap Information

Get the information of the victim and exchange yours with them. This includes names, numbers, addresses, and insurance information.

4. Contact Authorities

Call the police department and your local animal control agency. The police will complete a report that will be used during legal proceedings. Be prepared to give animal control information about your dog’s medical history and behavior.

5. Call a Dog Bite Lawyer

Finally, you’ll want to call a dog bite lawyer—especially if the dog was provoked. Proving provocation can be complicated, but that’s why Shapiro Law Team is here. Our team helps you set your case straight and will present evidence that takes liability off your back.

What Kind of Behavior Is Considered Provoking a Dog?

  • Teasing the Dog
    Dogs have their limits, just like humans, and constant teasing can agitate them. This agitation can lead to defensive or aggressive reactions.
  • Approaching in a Threatening Way
    Approaching a dog in a threatening manner, maintaining direct eye contact, or making sudden movements can be perceived as confrontational and may lead to an escalated reaction.
  • Disturbing the Dog While They Eat
    Dogs can be possessive about their food, and disturbing them during meals can potentially trigger an attack. Disturbing a dog while they eat might cause them to feel threatened, resulting in them defensively trying to defend their food.
  • Kicking or Hitting the Dog
    Kicking or hitting a dog is not only cruel but can also provoke an attack. Dogs may respond aggressively to physical harm as an instinct to protect themselves from threats.
  • Cornering the Dog
    Cornering a dog can trigger a fight-or-flight response. When a dog feels trapped or unable to escape, they may resort to aggression as a means of self-defense.
  • Attacking or Threatening the Owner
    Dogs are inherently loyal, and any perceived threat to their owner can provoke a defensive response. If a person acts aggressively toward the dog’s owner, the dog may interpret it as a threat and respond with aggression.
dog bite injury attorney new mexico

What Kind of Behavior Is Considered Provoking a Dog


What Actions Are Considered Non-Provoking?

Now that you know what actions are considered provoking, let’s take a look at what’s not considered provoking behavior.

  • Approaching a dog
  • Talking to a dog’s owner
  • Playing with a dog
  • Extending a hand to pet a dog
  • Feeding a dog

Dog Bite Liability in New Mexico

Despite no specific dog bite statutes, New Mexico is a “one-bite rule” state. This means the owner of a dog won’t be held liable unless the dog already has one prior biting incident. If the owner knew the dog was aggressive or was capable of injuring someone, the owner would be responsible for the damages.

How Does State Law Usually Deal With Dog Bites?

The injured victim of a dog bite case can seek compensation for their injuries. Here’s how:

Dog Bite Laws in New Mexico

1. Scienter

Scienter is a legal term that refers to the intent or knowledge of wrongdoing. In dog bite cases, scienter refers to the knowledge of a dog’s aggressive tendencies known by the dog owner. In New Mexico, if the owner was aware of their dog’s dangerous tendencies and failed to take reasonable actions, they may be held liable.

2. Negligence

Negligence involves the failure of the dog owner to exercise reasonable care in preventing the attack. This may include not properly restraining the dog, ignoring warning signs, or failing to address aggressive behavior. A dog owner will be held liable if negligence is proven.

3. Negligence and the Limits of a New Mexico Dog Bite Claim

Since New Mexico doesn’t have specific statutes on dog bites, victims recover damages based on the “one-bite rule” and negligence. Factors like provocation and trespassing can come into play as well.

4. Landlord Liability via Government Liability Based on Negligence

A property owner or management company can be held liable for dog bites if the dog belonged to the landlord, the dog was being fostered temporarily, or if the landlord knew the dog was vicious but did nothing about it.

5. New Mexico Uniform Jury Instruction for Dog Bite Liability

The “uniform jury instruction” states if the owner of the dog knew about prior vicious tendencies or had a natural tendency to be vicious, the owner is liable for damages. The owner is not liable if they didn’t know their dog was vicious.

Dog Bite Laws in New Mexico

Dog Bite Laws in New Mexico

Circumstances and the Dog’s Past Behavior Matter

A dog’s past behavior can be telling. Factors such as the presence of warning signs and the dog’s history of aggression are considered when determining liability.

Potential Consequences of a Dog Attack

The potential consequences of a dog attack can last a lifetime for the victim. On the other hand, the dog owner could face criminal charges if proven liable. Contact an experienced dog bite lawyer to understand your rights following a dog attack.

Bitten By an Aggressive Dog? Contact a Dog Bite Injury Attorney

Dog attacks are a traumatizing experience for the victim, the dog owner, and the dog. Don’t know if a dog bite provoked an attack? We’re here to help. If you or a loved one was involved in a dog bite attack and you think provocation was a driving factor, contact a dog bite attorney in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Shapiro Law Team has helped hundreds of clients secure maximum compensation.

Get the representation you need by calling us for a free consultation.

Common Dog Bite FAQs

What if people have complained about the dog in the past?
Complaints may serve as evidence that the owner knew of the dog’s aggressive tendencies.
Do courts assume that certain breeds are more dangerous than others?
Courts usually focus on a dog’s behavior rather than assuming certain breeds are inherently dangerous.
Are owners who post “beware of dog” signs saying they know their dogs are dangerous?
Not always, but it’ll raise the eyebrows of the court. Some “beware of dog” signs are simply a novelty item.
Can a dog be euthanized because of a single biting incident?
Euthanasia after a single biting incident is extremely uncommon in New Mexico. If your dog has reportedly bitten someone, you will likely have to keep your dog quarantined for a few weeks.
What damages are available for a dog bite injury?
Damages available for a dog bite injury include economic, non-economic, and punitive damages, in rare cases. These damages include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and ongoing physical or mental health treatments.
What is the deadline to file a lawsuit in a dog bite case?
The statute of limitations for a dog bite case in New Mexico is three years from the date of the incident.
Can you go to jail if your dog bites someone?
Jail time is possible for an owner if they already knew the dog was aggressive.
What evidence can I use to prove my dog was provoked?
Surveillance footage or footage from a Ring camera are types of evidence that can be used to prove your dog was provoked.

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