Workers' compensation: Dog bite hazards for postal workers

Employees in all industries in California must deal with safety hazards. Workers' compensation claims show that each occupation poses unique safety risks. Workers in several fields encounter the dangers posed by dogs every day. Data kept by the American Veterinary Medical Association indicates that an estimated 77 million dogs live in just over 48 million homes nationwide.

Employees at risk include postal workers, delivery workers, home maintenance workers and outdoor workers like landscapers may all come face-to-face with dogs on any given day. The size of the dog does not indicate the level of danger it poses. The National Safety Council has data that shows an increase of 2,850 in nonfatal dog-related injuries in the private sector between 2012 and 2018.

Reportedly, U.S. Postal Service employees reported 5,700 injuries that were caused by dog bites or attacks in 2019. Safety authorities advise workers to announce themselves by honking their vehicle horns, rattling the fence, or in any other way that will indicate their arrival to the property owners and their dogs. Coming upon a dog by surprise can have catastrophic consequences.

California workers who are attacked by dogs can pursue financial relief through the state-regulated workers' compensation system. However, discussing the matter with an experienced workers' compensation who also deals with third-party personal injury claims is a good idea. Under California law, pet owners are strictly liable if their dog bites anyone in a public place or someone who was lawfully on their private property. Legal counsel can advocate for the injured worker in a civil lawsuit, when applicable, along with a workers' compensation benefits claim. A successful lawsuit will provide recovery of damages not included in workers' compensation benefits.

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