Dog Attacks on USPS Mail Carriers Could Increase as More People Shelter at Home During Coronavirus Pandemic
In 2019, 5,714 postal employees were attacked by dogs and in a report conducted by City Watch LA stated that Governor Gavin Newsom’s shelter-at-home order might lead to an increase in dog attacks against mail carriers. The strict isolation requirements exempted essential workers such as those employed in law enforcement and certain other public service jobs and critical infrastructure industries including the United States Postal Service. Postal workers will still observe social distancing and sanitize hands and surfaces as they sort and process mail.
City Watch LA observes that in the midst of major life adjustments including most people working from home and children staying home due to closed schools or childcare, it is easy to overlook the fact that pets in the family might also be disturbed and confused by these changes in routine. It is easy for homeowners to forget to lock gates and make sure their pets are secure when the postal worker comes to deliver the mail or packages.
Keep Your Dog Restrained
Usually, when mail delivery happens, children run out to greet the carrier and the dog runs out with them. But, a protective dog may perceive the mail carrier as an unwelcome intruder and interpret him or her handing the mail to the child as an aggressive gesture. The result can be an unexpected dog attack that leaves the postal worker seriously injured.
Even dog attacks that are considered relatively minor can result in the need for medical treatment, psychological counseling and time off work, which can all prove costly. If you are home, it is best to keep your dog restrained especially at a time you know mail delivery takes place in your neighborhood.
Laws and Liability Issues
California’s Civil Code Section 3342 states: “The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.”
Mail carriers who are bitten by dogs on the job may be able to seek workers’ compensation benefits. At the same time, they may also be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the dog owner seeking compensation for their injuries, damages and losses including medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, cost of surgery, rehabilitation, psychological counseling, pain and suffering and emotional distress. An experienced Los Angeles dog bite lawyer will be able to help you better understand your legal rights and options.