The bond between humans and their pets is more than just companionship. Pets, especially dogs, are known to lower stress levels, enhance cardiovascular health, and aid people in developing their emotional and social abilities.
Although their loyalty and affection deserve praise, we should recognize their capability to cause serious injuries when provoked. Dog bites can cause severe physical injuries and life-long psychological trauma to victims, and legal consequences to the owner. Hence, we must understand the risks associated with our canine friends.
In Pennsylvania, two Great Danes mauled a woman to death. She was supposed to feed them while their owners were out of town. The breed is generally considered non-aggressive but can become territorial with strangers.
Besides strangers, around 24 percent of all reported cases of dog bite incidents involve pet owners.
Dog bites have different classifications to distinguish them. Dr. Ian Dunbar’s Dog Bite Scale assesses dog bite severity based on an objective view of the wound.
In the bite scale, 99 percent of all dog bites fall into level 1 and 2 categories. A level 1 dog bite occurs when a dog displays aggressive behavior without its mouth touching the skin. In contrast, a level 2 dog bite happens when a dog bites the skin but does not puncture it.
Suppose you or a family member is a victim of a dog attack. You should take the necessary steps to protect your rights and get compensation for any resulting injuries. You can hire an experienced personal injury attorney. They can provide valuable representation throughout the legal process.
Lawyers can help you understand your options and seek fair compensation. Visit The Personal Injury Center for information about injuries from dog bites. You can also connect with a lawyer to better understand your case.
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What are the levels of dog bites?
Dog bites can range from mild to severe, depending on the size and length of the dog. The force of a dog bite can cause superficial bruising to death. The injuries can also vary from bruises, abrasions, lacerations, skin puncture wounds, crushing injuries, and avulsion injuries.
Professionals assess a dog bite using Dr. Ian Dunbar’s Dog Bite Scale. The scale recognizes six levels of dog bites.
Level one dog bite
Sometimes called a “pre-bite” accident, level one dog bite entails a no-skin contact bite. It is exuberant behavior from the dog and can indicate a sign of aggression. The dog may also exhibit air biting and grunting in a level one dog attack.
If the dog bares its teeth and growls after the bite, it may be its canine instinct signaling fear and anxiety. There could be a valid reason for this fear. Hence, dog owners must address the cause of their pet’s insecurity to effectively prevent similar aggressive behavior.
Level two dog bite
Level two dog bites occur when the bite lightly grazes the skin but does not break it. It leaves redness and slight bruising but does not penetrate the skin enough to cause excessive bleeding.
However, slight bleeding can still occur because of the forward or lateral movement of the teeth while in bite mode. The bleeding is caused by the movement, not by the bite. Moreover, these wounds may resemble normal scratches.
When stressed, a dog may display level two bite behavior and may not know how to deal with its emotion healthily. Additionally, the dog can turn aggressive if the stressor persists. Professional dog trainers recommend calming your canine to prevent level two dog bites from escalating.
Level three dog bite
Level three dog bite occurs when a bite breaks the skin and leaves wound marks. The wound marks are typically vertical and not as deep as the dog’s canine teeth. However, they are deep enough to completely break the skin.
Lacerations occur if the victims pull their hand or arm away, causing bleeding. Medical treatment is necessary at this point, as wounds can become infected.
Dogs exhibiting level three dog bite tendencies are dangerous. Taking the dog to the veterinarian for clinical and behavioral assessment is advisable to prevent similar incidents. Dog bites from this category often come from dogs with serious social problems.
Level four dog bite
Level four dog bites often result in skin tears and bruises. It happens when a dog clamps down on its bite and shakes its head. It’s uncommon dog behavior typically displayed by dogs with predatory instincts.
Level four dog bites can be fatal, particularly if the victims are young children. In any case, separate the dog from any social interaction with humans or other dogs until it receives proper clinical or behavioral treatment. Treatment may include working with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist.
Level five dog bite
A level five dog bite involves multiple bites from the dog. It targets different body parts where the dog inflicts at least a single level four dog bite in a series of attacks. This behavior is incredibly dangerous and can result in severe injuries or death.
If the dog displays this behavior, you may require professional assistance. Some recommend euthanasia for the safety of everyone involved since these aggressive tendencies are difficult to correct.
Level six dog bite
A level six dog bite is the most severe and fatal since victims usually die after the attack. It happens when the bite results in the victim’s death or if the dog has consumed the victim’s flesh. A dog bite reaching this level is very rare.
Dog bites from level 2 up to level 6 usually involve personal injury to their victims. Knowing the classification of your bite is crucial when making a claim for compensation or seeking medical treatment.
When are you liable for a level 2 dog bite?
Liability rules involving dog bite injuries can be unclear. Consequently, a dog bite victim must account for many factors before making a proper claim. Here are a few factors victims should consider:
- the circumstances surrounding the attack;
- the dog owner’s history of negligence; and
- the place where the attack occurred
Besides these factors, courts may also consider other relevant aspects when deciding on dog bite cases.
Did you provoke the dog?
Previous court rulings indicate that dog owners are not liable if they can prove that the victim provoked their dog. For instance, throwing rocks at a dog and getting bitten does not help your case.
In Brans v. Extrom, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that accidentally stepping on a dog’s tail can relieve owners of liability. Moreover, the victim’s intent is irrelevant. Provocation is a provocation, whether intentional or not.
Were you trespassing?
Owners are usually not liable for dog bites inflicted upon a trespasser. Similarly, a dog owner waives the responsibility to keep people safe within the property if that person is trespassing. For example, robbers cannot claim damages if the homeowner’s dog attacks them.
However, property owners and dog owners are generally responsible for ensuring that their premises are safe for visitors and preventing them from sustaining injuries. This responsibility falls under premises liability, which imposes responsibility on property owners to provide reasonable protection to visitors.
The rule provides that dog owners can still be responsible for dog bites to strangers if these people were explicitly invited to enter the property.
Did you know you are likely to get bitten?
Dog owners can be relieved of liability if the victim knew there was an injury risk but knowingly took it. Likewise, a person who voluntarily undertook the responsibility for a dog’s care cannot sue the dog owner for a dog bite. For example, veterinarians or kennel operators cannot recover from dog owners since they voluntarily took in the dog.
Additionally, “Beware of Dog” signs prominently placed around the area can relieve dog owners of liability. Suppose the victim voluntarily crosses the area. The owner is relieved of dog bite liability since the victim knowingly took the risk.
What should you do after a level 2 dog bite attack?
Experiencing a level 2 dog bite attack can be a traumatic experience for the victim, even if the injury appears minor. Regardless of severity, hospitalization and treatment for untreated dog bites can cost thousands of dollars.
Some may want to forgo treatment. However, it’s best to take steps to protect yourself and your legal rights by following these steps:
Seek immediate medical attention
Dog bites can lead to serious health complications since dogs carry different types of bacteria. If left untreated, level 2 dog bites can become infected and require extensive medical treatment and antibiotics.
Investigate and confirm if the bite tore the skin. If there is grazing, bruising, or bleeding, administer first aid. Wash the area with mild soap and running water for at least 10 minutes. Afterward, cover the wounds with a clean cloth. Cleaning the bite area will reduce the risk of infection.
Identify the dog owner
Once you’ve treated your wound, find the dog owner and inform them of the incident. The owner is primarily liable in cases of dog bites and should take responsibility for your medical expenses.
Persons injured due to dog bites may file a claim on the owner’s insurance or seek compensation in a personal injury lawsuit. If the owner has liability insurance, get their insurance information. It’s important when you file a claim seeking compensation for your medical treatment and other damages.
Document your injuries
Take pictures of any visible wounds and the dog. Additionally, take photos or videos of your surroundings that may support your version of the incident.
Speak with witnesses who may have seen the attack and gather their contact information. You should also keep records of your medical bills and treatment. You will need this documentation when making your claim or pursuing legal action.
Talk to a personal injury lawyer
A personal injury lawyer can provide valuable assistance after a level 2 dog bite injury. They can help assess your case and check the strength of your claim. Moreover, they can help you understand your legal options and potential outcomes of a personal injury claim.
Personal injury lawyers can support and guide you in the legal process and get you the compensation you deserve. They will help you negotiate a fair settlement or file a suit in court against the dog owner.
Additionally, hiring a personal injury lawyer can give you peace of mind. Knowing that an experienced legal professional is handling your case can alleviate stress and worry.
Did you know?
Pitbulls are responsible for most dog bite cases in the US. The breed accounts for 25 percent of all the reported dog bites in the country.
Prove Negligence in a Level 2 Dog Bite Case
Dog bite injuries can affect victims physically and financially. Besides the physical pain, you must deal with medical expenses, including hospital stays and treatments. You may also suffer a loss of income from missing work due to hospitalization.
Victims may seek compensation from responsible parties. However, you may only be compensated if you can prove the dog owner was negligent. Moreover, the owner’s negligence must be the reason you sustained injuries.
Proving negligence can be difficult. Hence, letting a skilled personal injury lawyer handle your case is your best option. The Personal Injury Center can connect you with a reliable lawyer to work on your dog bite injury case. Avail a free consultation so you can get matched with the right attorney.
Seek compensation for your dog bite injury with the help of The Personal Injury Center. Talk with an experienced personal injury lawyer today!
FAQs on Level 2 Dog Bites
Each dog bite case is unique. Hence, there is no specific time frame for when it will be resolved. Moreover, estimating how long it will take to get compensation or a fair settlement is challenging. Since different factors influence the duration of these cases, they can take several months to a few years to be settled.
It depends on the lawyer or law firm handling the case. If you select a law firm that offers a contingency fee arrangement, you won't need to pay anything upfront. The lawyer or law firm will only receive payment after they win your case.
In level 5 or level 6 dog bite injuries or fatalities, the authorities may charge the owner with manslaughter or a similar crime. Criminal liability only applies if the owner does not comply with the judicial order to put the dog down.