A Guide to the Dunbar Dog Bite Scale

German shepherd dog biting hand of the stranger.

Dog bite wounds can be categorized using the “Dunbar Dog Bite Scale.” Medical practitioners use the scale to assess the severity of dog attack injuries and provide effective treatment. It also helps attorneys calculate the value of a dog bite claim.

The Indiana dog bite attorneys at Truitt Law Offices offer victims legal and moral support to help them through this challenging time. When a four-legged friend turns into a danger, you need effective legal counsel to help you navigate the situation and pursue maximum compensation for your injuries. The Dunbar Dog Bite Scale is one of the tools our team can use to help estimate the value of your claim.

What Is the Dunbar Dog Bite Scale?

Dr. Ian Dunbar is a veterinarian and animal behaviorist. He is also the creator of the Dunbar Dog Bite Scale. The Dunbar Dog Bite Scale is an objective list and evaluation tool that categorizes wound severity levels after a dog attack. The scale is an essential way for medical practitioners to understand the severity of dog bite injuries and the animal’s behaviors that may have triggered an aggressive response.

Along with medical records and other information, the Dunbar Dog Bite Scale may also help a lawyer assess the severity of a dog attack victim’s injuries and calculate the fair value of their injury claim.

What Are the Different Levels on the Dunbar Dog Bite Scale?

There are six levels on the Dunbar Dog Bite Scale. Each level corresponds to how dangerous the dog is and the condition of the victim’s wounds. These levels include:

  • Level 1 – The dog has aggressive mannerisms and behavior, but there was no teeth-on-skin contact.
  • Level 2 – The dog grips using its teeth, but there are no puncture wounds. The bite may not even break the skin. This is a warning that the dog is stressed or agitated.
  • Level 3 – The animal is more aggressive. A single bite leaves puncture wounds or lacerations. Typically, the wounds are shallow and no deeper than half the length of the dog’s canine teeth.
  • Level 4 – The animal leaves a single bite with at least one deep puncture wound to the skin. The wound may have deep bruising around the bite mark. There may also be lacerations, especially if the dog bites and aggressively shakes its head while holding on to the victim.
  • Level 5 – There are multiple level four dog bite wounds present, meaning there are several deep and significant injuries. Level five wounds indicate the animal’s severe potential danger to others.
  • Level 6 – Level six wounds cause the victim’s death.

What Injuries Are Often Associated with Dog Bites?

Depending on the breed, dogs can be powerful animals capable of inflicting terrible wounds. Scarring and disfigurement are frequent complications associated with dog bite injuries. Some of the most common injuries from dog attacks include:

  • Puncture wounds
  • Lacerations
  • Facial injuries
  • Eye injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Soft tissue damage
  • Nerve damage
  • Internal bleeding
  • Amputations, especially fingers

Dog bites can cause significant health concerns like infection and illness. Some reports suggest that 15 to 20 percent of dog bite wounds become infected. Other diseases transmitted by bites can include rabies, tetanus, and MRSA.

Unfortunately, dog attacks can also be extraordinarily traumatic and cause mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

What Should I Do After a Dog Attack?

A dog attack can be frightening and cause devastating physical injuries. Protecting yourself or your family should be your priority. However, there are other things you can do in the aftermath of a dog bite to help improve your prognosis and strengthen your claim. Consider these steps after being attacked by a dog:

  • Seek medical attention immediately – Immediate medical intervention is vital following a dog bite for your health and to create a medical record of the injuries.
  • Document the attack – Take photographs or videos of the incident and your injuries. Try to gather the dog’s owner’s contact information and the homeowner’s insurance information. It would also help if they could provide their animal’s vaccination history. If witnesses saw the incident, ask them for their contact information.
  • Report the attack – Dangerous animals are a threat to everyone, especially children. You can report dog attacks to the animal control in your jurisdiction, such as the Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control office.
  • Consult an Indiana dog bite attorney – Recovering the money you need for your medical expenses can be challenging, especially if the dog belonged to a friend or family member. Talk to a skilled dog bite attorney as soon as possible. They can work with the dog owner’s insurer and minimize the harm to your relationship.

What Compensation Could I Be Entitled to from a Dog Bite Injury Lawsuit?

Several factors can impact the value of a dog bite claim, including the cause of the incident and the severity of a victim’s injuries. However, in many cases, a dog bite victim can seek money for the following:

  • Current and future medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future earning capacity
  • Disfigurement
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress

How Is a Dog Bite Settlement Calculated?

An experienced Indiana dog bite lawyer can evaluate your circumstances and calculate your claim’s fair value. The severity of your injuries and the cause of the attack can make a difference. An attorney can also help build a solid case demonstrating why you deserve maximum compensation for your injuries and financial losses.

How Long Do I Have to File a Dog Bite Lawsuit in Indiana?

Indiana law gives dog bite victims two years from the incident date to file a lawsuit. If you file after the legal deadline, your case faces dismissal without a hearing. You’ll lose your chance to pursue compensation in court. Talk to an Indiana dog bite attorney as soon as possible to avoid this.

Contact an Indiana Dog Bite Lawyer

You don’t have to struggle to recover money from a dog bite claim alone. The experienced Indiana dog bite lawyers with Truitt Law Offices can help. We use the Dunbar Dog Bite Scale and other tools to help us calculate your losses and pursue maximum compensation for your injuries. Contact our office today for a free legal consultation to discuss your rights.

Visit Our Indiana Dog Bite Injury Law Offices

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About the Author

Phil Truitt joined Truitt Law Offices in 2018 after he earned his J.D. from Ohio Northern University Ohio Northern Pettit College of Law. However, his association with the law firm dates all the way back to childhood. His father, Richard, established the firm over 40 years ago. Growing up, Phil…