According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the US. And while anyone can suffer a dog bite, delivery drivers are especially vulnerable. Statistics released by the US Postal Service show that 5,800 of its employees were attacked by dogs in the U.S. in 2020.
Whether a driver is delivering mail, food, flowers, or something else, when they lawfully enter someone else’s property, they expect to leave uninjured. But when delivery drivers suffer dog bites on private property, who is liable for their injuries?
Why Are Delivery Drivers More Susceptible to Dog Bites?
Delivery drivers are particularly susceptible to dog bites due to the nature of their jobs and the unique challenges they face.
Drivers make frequent stops at many different locations, including hundreds of homes. They often lack familiarity with the specific neighborhoods they navigate, exposing them to unfamiliar dogs and unpredictable situations. The time constraints associated with quick deliveries further contribute to their vulnerability, as drivers may not have adequate time to assess and respond to potential dog-related risks.
Depending on the delivery driver’s employer and employment status, they also may lack any education or training in recognizing and responding to potential threats from dogs.
California Dog Bite Laws
California is a strict liability state regarding dog bites. In the Golden State, dog owners are responsible for all bites occurring in public places or on private property if the victim is lawfully visiting. This includes bites at the dog owner’s home if the injured party is allowed to be there, regardless of the dog’s prior behavior or the owner’s knowledge of such behavior.
Unlike some states that follow a “one bite” rule, where the owner is only liable if the dog has bitten someone before, California does not require a prior bite or aggressive behavior for the owner to be held responsible. This liability extends not only to the owner but also to anyone who has control over the dog, which means that a person taking care of the dog at the time of the incident may also be held responsible.
Finally, California law also places extra responsibility on an owner to take reasonable care to prevent further attacks if a previous attack has occurred.
Who is Liable for Delivery Driver Dog Bite Injuries?
Dog bites can be incredibly serious, potentially leading to medical expenses and missed work. But when a delivery driver is involved, the situation can be even more complicated, as there may be several parties that could potentially be liable.
As mentioned above, California is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bites. If a delivery driver suffers a dog bite while performing their duties, they don’t need to prove that the owner was negligent to be held liable. If the bite occurs at someone’s home, their homeowner’s insurance policy likely covers dog bites. In these cases, the driver can recover damages by filing a dog bite insurance claim.
If the delivery driver is an employee and the dog bite occurs while the driver is performing their work duties, they may be entitled to workers’ compensation. However, if the delivery driver is an independent contractor driving for gig employers like DoorDash or UberEats, determining liability may be more complicated. If you find yourself in this situation, seek the advice of an experienced California dog bite attorney as soon as you can to determine the best course of action.
Delivery Driver Bitten by a Dog?
Although most delivery drivers would rather go about their jobs unimpeded, dog bites often happen when you least expect it. Knowing what to do if it happens is important if you’re a delivery driver in California.
1. Get the Dog Owner’s Information
If you’ve been bitten by a dog, get the contact info of the owner of the dog if at all possible. If the owners are home this will likely be easier to do, but if the owners are away or working you may need to return. Getting the owner’s information will be critical in filing a dog bite insurance claim, and even more so if you end up filing a personal injury suit.
2. Document All Injuries
Be sure to seek medical attention if necessary, as dog bites can range from light bruising to serious lacerations requiring stitches or surgery. Even for minor bites, it is a good idea to visit a medical professional as soon as you can, as the dog may be carrying rabies or another germ that can make humans sick. Keep any and all medical records regarding the damage caused, any treatments performed afterward, and any necessary future treatments or rehabilitation.
3. Report the Bite
Although not a state requirement, some counties (such as Los Angeles County) make reporting dog bites mandatory. Regardless, it is still a good idea to file a report with the proper authority after suffering a dog bite to protect your legal rights and create a record should any issues arise.
4. Notify Your Employer
If the dog bite injury occurred during the course of a delivery driver’s normal work duties, you will most likely be able to file a claim for California workers’ compensation with your employer. In some cases, a driver may be able to file for both workers’ compensation as well as file a personal injury claim.
5. Call an Attorney
Legal claims can become complicated, but this is even more likely when a possible claim involves multiple potentially liable parties and insurance companies. If you are a delivery driver bitten by a dog in California and don’t know where to turn, make a call to an experienced dog bite attorney like the team at Weinberg Law.
Contact Weinberg Law Today
At Weinberg Law, there is no such thing as a small case. We treat every client with individual attention and will fight hard to get them the compensation they deserve. With years of combined experience handling dog bite cases, we know the ins and outs of the process. Give us a call today to schedule a free consultation, or fill out our online contact form to get started.