Slate’s Law Blog

How Preventable are Catastrophic Dog Bites?

Millions upon millions of American households own pet dogs; the percentages vary from one place to another, but the percentage is especially high in places like New Mexico, where there is ample space for backyards where dogs can roam around and where you are never far from unspoiled nature where dogs may frolic. Almost anyone who has interacted extensively with dogs has gotten a nip or two, and most of the time, it is no big deal. Most dogs are not especially aggressive, and most dog bites do not cause serious injury.  In fact, it is hard to measure how many people get bitten by dogs each year because so many bites do not result in injuries severe enough to require medical treatment. Several dozen people die from dog bite injuries each year, and others suffer permanent injuries. Although catastrophic dog attacks are uncommon, they may be preventable. If you suffered serious injuries when someone else’s dog bit you, contact a Santa Fe slip-and-fall and premises liability lawyer.

What the Worst Dog Bite Incidents Have in Common

Internet discussion boards and cocktail parties on the patio decks of suburban homes are common venues for unwinnable debates about which breeds of dog have the sweetest personalities and which ones are the most aggressive. These discussions miss the point when it comes to the risk of severe injury. Other factors besides the dog’s breed affect its aggression, and other factors besides the dog’s innate tendency toward aggression affect the severity of the injuries. A disproportionate number of victims of fatal dog attacks are children under the age of ten, and many of the dogs were large. All other factors being equal, the results are much worse when a German shepherd bites a toddler than when a miniature Schnauzer bites an adult. More than 80% of the dogs involved in fatal attacks were non-neutered males. In more than three-quarters of fatal dog attacks, there were no able-bodied adults present who could intervene.

To prevent dog attacks, never leave children unattended with dogs, not even your own child and your own dog, and not even a puppy that will still fit in a bicycle basket when it is fully grown. Adults should not be alone with unfamiliar large dogs; the buddy system saves lives when interacting with dogs.

Legal Responsibility for Dog Bite Injuries

The law of vicarious liability often applies in dog bite cases, meaning that the owner of the dog is legally responsible for injuries caused by the dog. It is not always so simple, though. You may have to prove that you did not provoke the dog to bite you. You might also have to prove that you were not trespassing on the dog owner’s property.  New Mexico is a “one bite” state, which means that your chances of winning your case are better if the dog has previously bitten a person before it bites you.

Contact Slate Stern About Dog Attack Lawsuits

Slate Stern is a personal injury lawyer who represents plaintiffs injured in dog bite accidents.  Contact Slate Stern in Santa Fe, New Mexico or call (505)814-1517 to discuss your case.


Fatal dog attacks are hard to predict. But some common factors emerge (

Photo by Dasha Urvachova on Unsplash