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A Delivery Driver’s Guide to Dog Attacks

Posted on July 31st, 2023

A Delivery Driver’s Guide to Dog Attacks

With the rise of e-commerce and the gig economy, working as a delivery driver is more popular than ever. With companies like Amazon, PostMates, DoorDash, FedEx, USPS, and grocery stores all utilizing large workforces of delivery drivers, there are now over 1 million people employed in the Couriers & Local Delivery Services industry in the US as of 2023. 

With its promise of flexibility, working as a delivery driver may seem attractive to many people, but it is important to think about the unique challenges and risks this job presents. While driver and pedestrian safety seem obvious, in recent years there have been a number of severe instances of dog attacks on delivery drivers. In the last year alone, 5,300 postal workers have been attacked by dogs. And while any dog attack can be scary, some of these attacks have resulted in permanent loss of limb and, in the worst cases, death.   

In the aftermath of a dog attack, it can be difficult to know what to do next. This guide provides vital insights into your legal rights, safety tips, and procedures to follow in case of an attack.

Your Legal Options After a Dog Bite in Washington

Washington upholds a strict liability statute regarding dog bites. As per the statute, owners or keepers of dogs are strictly liable for any dog bite injuries that their dogs cause, regardless of whether the animal has a history of dangerous behavior. 

However, the following conditions must be met:

  • The injured person was in a public place or a private area where they had legal permission to be.
  • The injured person did not provoke the dog.

For delivery drivers, the front door of a home is considered public property. As long as you do not trespass into other areas of the property without the owner’s permission, you can pursue a lawsuit after being bit by a dog, regardless of fault or negligence.

Your Legal Options After a Dog-Related Injury That Isn’t a Bite

It’s important to note that strict liability only applies to dog bites. If you’re injured by a dog in another way, such as being pushed to the ground, you’ll need to prove the owner’s negligence to recover compensation. If you are an employee of a delivery company, you may also be eligible for a workers’ compensation claim, regardless of whether negligence played a role in the attack. 

How to Avoid Dog Attacks While Making Deliveries

While dogs’ behavior can be unpredictable you can take several steps to reduce the risk of attacks. Every interaction with a dog, no matter its size or breed, should be approached with caution. When you encounter a dog on your delivery route, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Announce your arrival to avoid surprising a dog.
  • Avoid startling dogs by maintaining a safe distance.
  • Keep a close eye on unrestrained dogs and be prepared for possible aggression.
  • Refrain from petting customers’ dogs to avoid potential threats.
  • If customers are present, request them to restrain their dog before you make a delivery.
  • Maintain calm and avoid direct eye contact with dogs to prevent aggression.
  • Prioritize your safety; if you feel threatened, do not proceed with the delivery.
  • Never assume a dog won’t bite. Stay alert even with familiar dogs.

What to Do If You Are Attacked by a Dog on Your Route

The moments after a dog attack can feel scary and overwhelming. However, the steps that you take immediately afterward can have a major influence on your legal options. If you are attacked by a dog in Washington, take the following actions to protect yourself and safeguard your rights:

  • Report the attack to local law enforcement and animal control.
  • Perform first aid on your wounds, if possible.
  • Seek immediate medical attention to prevent infections.
  • Document all evidence by taking photos and videos of your injuries and the animal.
  • Acquire the dog owner’s contact information and verify the pet’s vaccination status.
  • Notify your employer of the dog bite incident.
  • Contact a lawyer for assistance.

Pursuing a dog bite injury claim can be complicated, but hiring an attorney can help you fight for the compensation you deserve. After seeking medical care, schedule a free legal consultation to learn how a Washington dog bite lawyer can support your case.