What Happens When a Dog Bites A Mailman?

dog bites a mailman

Letter carriers and delivery people have difficult jobs. They have to deal with all kinds of obstacles—including dogs. If you suffered serious injuries from a dog bite or animal attack as a postal worker or delivery driver, you need an experienced dog bite lawyer to protect your rights. California dog bite attorney Michael Henderson and his team with Henderson Law have over 20 years of experience fighting for the rights of dog bite victims in California. You can trust their dedication and skill to give you the best chance at securing the most compensation possible. 

Can a Postal Worker Sue for Dog Bite Injuries?

A letter carrier who sustains an injury while working has to comply with the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA). Under this law, the federal government compensates an employee for any disability, death, or injury suffered in the performance of their duties. 

Postal workers have to give formal notice to the employer of their intent to file a compensation claim within 30 days. Also, the employee has to notify a supervisor of the injury immediately. You cannot collect if you miss these deadlines. 

In addition to contacting your supervisor, you should inform the police. 

However, keep in mind that Section 8131 of FECA demands that federal employees file claims against third parties for damages when the third party is responsible for the employee’s losses. In other words, the injured postal worker can file a claim for damages from a dog bite against a dog owner. However, the federal government retains subrogation rights. This means that you have to pay the federal government back for any workers’ compensation benefits you’ve received if you win your dog bite claim against the dog owner. 

What Type of Injuries Can Dog Bite Victims Suffer?

Dog bites and attacks cause a variety of injuries. Many factors play a role in determining injury severity. For instance, the victim’s size, the dog’s size, the dog breed, and the circumstances of the attack are significant factors determining the injury’s type and severity.

At Henderson Law, our dog bite attorney has represented many clients who sustained the following types of injuries:

  • Puncture wounds;
  • Cuts;
  • Skin tears;
  • Amputations;
  • Bruising;
  • Broken bones; 
  • Crushed bones; 
  • Nerve damage;
  • Loss of Consciousness;
  • Loss of motor functions; and
  • Other injuries associated with the attack include strains, sprains, and head injuries.

Sadly, a dog attack could end in death as well.

Current medical literature suggests that every dog bite has the potential to develop an infection, but only 15 to 20% actually result in infection. Crushing injuries and puncture wounds tend to be more susceptible to infection than others, but treating physicians will take steps to prevent an infection from setting in. 

The literature also suggests that people with certain medical conditions have a higher than typical risk of developing an infection. Doctors are aware of this and often treat the possibility of infection more aggressively in higher-risk patients. 

Doctors will also ensure that the victim has a current tetanus shot and the attacking dog has a current rabies vaccination. 

What Are the Damages for a Dog Biting a Mailman?

The damages a mailman could recover for a dog bite largely depend on the injury’s severity. Generally, an injured mail carrier could receive compensation for:

  • Medical bills;
  • Lost wages;
  • Future economic losses;
  • Expenses for future medical treatment; 
  • Scarring; 
  • Physical therapy; 
  • Psychological counseling; and
  • Pain and suffering.

The amount you could expect to recover depends on how long you were out of work, your medical expenses, and how significantly the dog attack affected your life.

The psychological effect of a dog bite should not be understated. Many people suffer from severe anxiety, PTSD, nightmares, and depression after a dog attack. Scarring could compound the emotional damage—particularly if that scarring is on the face.

Preventing Dogs from Attacking the Mailman

Postal carriers everywhere have to worry about dog attacks and bites. According to the United States Postal Service (USPS), California leads the nation in dog attacks on postal workers. The USPS reports that 782 letter carriers suffered a dog bite in 2022 and 777 suffered a dog bite in 2019. (2021 statistics are not available.) That’s a lot of dog bites! Texas finished second in the nation during those years—but had only half the number of letter carrier dog bites of California. 

The USPS trains its letter carriers to defend themselves from dog attacks. Everyone swears their dog will never bite. But with 5,800 postal carriers sustaining dog bite injuries in 2020 nationwide, more dogs than we realize are capable of biting the mailman. 

Mailmen know that they should not startle a dog. Instead, they are trained to make noise to get the dog’s attention instead of sneaking up on them. This reduces the chances the dog will react because it’s scared. They also know not to pet or feed your dog, no matter how friendly. 

If a dog attacks, the mail carrier will put something between the dog and themselves. They also carry dog repellent to fend off attacking animals. 

However, dog owners have the bulk of the responsibility to prevent dog bites. Dogs should remain inside the house or on a leash if outside. Additionally, the dog should go into another room if the letter carrier comes up to the door. Finally, no one should receive mail from the carrier directly. The dog might mistake that as an aggressive gesture against their master and try to defend them.

Protect Your Rights

Contact Henderson Law today to learn more about what happens when a dog bites a mailman. As a mail carrier, you deserve to protect your rights if you suffer a severe dog bite injury. Attorney Michael Henderson has over 20 years of experience representing people bitten by dogs. With millions of dollars recovered for dog bites and other personal injury victims, Michael Henderson delivers results. Contact award-winning dog bite attorney Michael Henderson for a free consultation.