(360) 718-3640
Personal Injury Lawyer
Vancouver & Southwest Washington

Dog Bites: Liability and Prevention for Postal Workers

A German Shepherd dog is shown in an aggressive stance, with its mouth open, baring sharp teeth, and ears perked up.

Dog bites pose a significant risk to postal workers across the United States. In June 2024, the U.S. Postal Service renewed its efforts to tackle this issue head-on with its National Dog Bite Awareness Campaign. This year's initiative aimed to educate dog owners and the public about the importance of responsible pet ownership and safe mail delivery practices.

With over 5,800 postal employees attacked by dogs last year—an increase from the previous year—the campaign's message is more important than ever. Under the theme "Don't let your dog bite the hand that serves you," the USPS seeks to foster a safer environment for its workers while ensuring efficient mail delivery nationwide.

What can dog owners do to help prevent dog bites?

Dog owners play an important role in preventing dog bites on postal workers and anyone else who may encounter their dogs (children, adults, etc.). Owners should secure their dogs in a separate room or behind a fence, especially when a mail carrier is likely to make a delivery. This simple step can significantly reduce the risk of unexpected encounters.

For front-door deliveries, owners should place their dogs in another room before opening the door to receive mail or packages. They should also teach children not to take mail directly from carriers in a dog's presence, as dogs may perceive this as a threat. Owners should take extra precautions to prevent escape if a dog tends to push through screen doors or windows.

How does USPS prepare its workers for dog bites?

USPS equips its carriers with key skills and tools to prepare for potential dog encounters. Carriers receive training to recognize and respond to canine threats. They learn to make non-threatening noises to alert dogs of their presence, avoid startling animals, and maintain vigilant eye contact with dogs.

USPS instructs carriers never to assume a dog won't bite and to avoid petting or feeding animals on their routes. If confronted, carriers are taught to use their mail satchel as a protective barrier and carry dog repellent for emergencies. Technologically, USPS has introduced a dog alert feature on carriers' handheld scanners and uses dog warning cards during mail sorting to flag potential hazards. These measures aim to minimize risks and empower carriers to handle dog-related challenges effectively.

What are the consequences of dog attacks?

Dog attacks can lead to serious repercussions for pet owners. The average cost per insurance claim for a dog bite has reached $64,555, according to recent data from the Insurance Information Institute. Dog owners may be held responsible for medical bills, lost wages, and compensation for the injured party's pain and suffering.

Beyond financial liability, these incidents can disrupt mail service. If a carrier feels unsafe, mail delivery to the dog owner's address—and potentially the entire neighborhood—may be suspended. To resume service, owners might need to pick up mail at their local Post Office or even rent a P.O. box.

Common injuries and health conditions from dog bites

Dog bites can result in serious injuries and health complications, some of which may have long-lasting effects. The severity often depends on the dog's size, strength, the location of the bite, and if a dog carries disease. Common injuries and health conditions resulting from dog attacks include:

  • Puncture wounds and lacerations.
  • Soft tissue damage and bruising.
  • Nerve damage, potentially leading to loss of sensation or function.
  • Fractures, especially in hands or fingers.
  • Infections, including tetanus and rabies.
  • Scarring and disfigurement.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Cellulitis, a bacterial skin infection.
  • Sepsis, in severe cases.
  • Crush injuries from powerful bites.
  • Avulsion injuries, where tissue is torn away.

What should I do after a dog bite?

If you've been bitten by a dog, take immediate and appropriate action for your health and potential legal compensation. Here's what to do:

  • Seek medical attention immediately, even for seemingly minor bites.
  • Get the owner's contact information and ask about the dog's vaccination status.
  • Report the incident to local animal control or law enforcement to create an official record of the event.
  • Take photos of your injuries, keep all medical records, and write down the details of the incident while they're fresh in your memory.
  • Don't wash or discard clothing worn during the attack, as it may be useful evidence.
  • Contact your employer if the bite occurred during work hours and follow your workplace's incident reporting procedures.
  • Get legal help from an experienced dog bite lawyer who understands dog bite laws.

Seek justice with an experienced dog bite attorney

Dog bite victims in Vancouver, WA, and throughout Southwest Washington have legal rights. During the aftermath of a dog attack, you could be faced with physical injuries, emotional distress, and the challenge of dealing with a reluctant dog owner or insurance company. This is why you need a skilled attorney on your side who can help you secure fair compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, and suffering.

The Scott Law Firm, PLLC, has a proven track record of achieving successful outcomes in dog bite cases. This includes $305,000 on behalf of a child who was injured after a dog attack (past results do not guarantee or predict similar outcomes in future cases). We offer free case evaluations to assess your situation and explain your options. Time is critical in these cases, so don't delay in seeking legal help. Contact us today to learn more.

Categories: Posts
Free Consultation Click Here