The demand for groceries, food, and other products purchased online and delivered directly to their doors has increased substantially. This trend has continued and, when combined with existing services like USPS, FedEx, UPS, and Amazon, put more delivery personnel on the road across Massachusetts.
Whether you’re doing deliveries for side income or as a full-time job, there are certain risks that you face. One of them is dog bite attacks. These bites can range in severity from pain and infection to nerve damage, scarring, mental trauma, and permanent impairment. If you were bitten at work, you should review all your options with a Boston dog bite lawyer so that you can receive the full compensation you deserve. Here are some tips for delivery drivers who are bitten by dogs in Massachusetts.
Who Is at Risk of a Dog Bite?
At home, dogs can be particularly territorial and perceive any guest as a threat. Although most owners simply post Beware of Dog signs at the front of the property, this does not protect them from liability if a dog bites a delivery driver, garbage collector, landscaper, or any other worker carrying out legitimate business on the property.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, dog bite claims increased significantly during the pandemic, with property insurers paying over $854 million in liability claims. In 2020, the average cost per claim increased to $50,425 from $44,760 in 2019.
If you’ve been injured by a dog bite while delivering food, packages, or mail, you deserve full compensation for your medical bills, income loss, and pain and suffering. How you file a claim and against whom depends primarily on whether you were employed or an independent contractor at the time of the attack.
Dog Bites and Workers’ Compensation
In Massachusetts, workers’ compensation is a no-fault program designed to assist workers who are injured on the job and to protect employers from injury claims. When a worker is injured on the job, workers’ compensation can provide coverage for:
- 60% of the gross average weekly wage you earned for the 52 weeks preceding your injury
- Medical treatment costs
- Temporary total disability
- Partial total disability
- Vocational rehabilitation
In general, there should be a causal connection between the animal bite and the work. An act that results in a bite should be reasonably anticipated by the nature of the job, and being a delivery driver requires you to go onto properties where aggressive dogs may be found.
A workers’ compensation claim generally covers medical expenses and lost wages, but dog owners can be held responsible for non-economic losses such as pain and suffering. If you are dealing with months of painful treatment and are now afraid to do your job lest you encounter a dog, a personal injury claim against the owner can compensate you for these damaging impacts on your life.
Dog Attacks on Independent Contractors
When you’re a self-employed contractor doing food or grocery deliveries, the workers’ compensation system doesn’t apply to your situation, so you will have to file a personal injury claim against the dog’s owner to cover damages like lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering.
When a dog bites someone in Massachusetts, strict liability laws apply. It means that if a dog bites you while you are doing deliveries, its owner is responsible for paying compensation to you, usually through homeowners’ insurance. There is no requirement that you prove negligence or that the dog has bitten someone before, although this can certainly help your case. A Boston dog bite attorney with a strong track record can help you build a case for maximum compensation.
What To Do If You Have Been Bitten By A Dog
If you are bitten by a dog while doing a delivery, follow these steps:
- Seek Medical Attention: A dog bite can be dangerous and even fatal. Go to the hospital as soon as possible and get the injury checked out. You will get the emergency medical treatment you need and create a record of your injuries, which can later be used to support your claim.
- Gather as Much Information as You Can: If you were attacked by a dog, make sure you have the owner’s contact information before leaving the location. If you are not able to collect that information at that time, ask someone you trust to do it for you. Retain any evidence showing that you were on the property legitimately, such as a delivery request.
- Report the Attack to Your Supervisor: If you’re employed, notify your supervisor of the attack and your injuries as soon as possible, so that a workers’ compensation claim can begin.
- Report the Attack to Local Authorities: Local police, including the animal control officer, should be notified of dangerous dogs and injuries sustained by dog attacks. The officers may also assist you in collecting the dogowner’s contact information and learning about the vaccination status of the dog.
- Consult a Dog Bite Lawyer: When you are bitten by a dog, you need to know your rights. An experienced dog bite lawyer can give you all the information you need about your legal rights and options, which may include suing the owner for your noneconomic damages (if employed) or all damages (if you’re a contractor).
Bitten by a Dog? Talk to a Lawyer About Your Rights
Each dog attack case is unique, so if you’ve been attacked and injured, get advice from a Boston personal injury lawyer, even if your employer manages your worker’s compensation claim. At Parker Scheer LLP, we understand how traumatic the aftermath of a serious dog bite can be and will use our experience and resources to fight for the financial compensation you need to cope with the physical and mental trauma. We offer free consultations and you only pay us if we win your case, so you have nothing to lose. To learn more, call (617) 886-0500 or contact us online.