Popular culture often displays humorous depictions of postal workers running away from aggressive dogs. Still, the threat of dog attacks is no laughing matter for mail carriers. Numerous postal service employees have suffered severe injuries from dogs; tragically, some have even lost their lives.
Dog attacks can cause a variety of injuries, ranging from minor bites and scratches to more serious injuries like puncture wounds, fractures, and disfigurement. These injuries often require medical attention, including emergency room visits, surgeries, and ongoing rehabilitation. Additionally, postal carriers can suffer injuries that keep them from working temporarily or permanently.
Dogs may attack postal workers for a variety of reasons, including territorial behavior, fear, and aggression. Dogs are territorial by nature, so if a stranger is near or on a dog owner’s property, the pet may attack.
Additionally, dogs may be aggressive toward postal workers due to fear or anxiety. The presence of a stranger may cause a dog to become fearful and react defensively. Dogs that have not been properly socialized or have had negative experiences with strangers may be more likely to exhibit fear-based aggression.
A primary reason why dogs attack mail carriers is that many owners lie about their pets’ aggressive behaviors. As a mail carrier approaches, the owner may say that their dog doesn’t bite when in reality, the animal poses a significant danger. This problem is so common that one of the first things delivery companies tell their employees is that dog owners lie about their pets’ aggressive propensities.
Even if a dog has never attacked someone, they still pose a serious threat, especially to anyone who enters its owner’s property.
Postal carriers being attacked by dogs is more common than you may think. According to the U.S. Postal Service, there were 5,400 incidents of dogs attacking postal workers in 2021, 15 of which occurred in Indianapolis. Plus, dog-induced injuries are the third most common injury for delivery workers after slips and falls and muscle strains. It’s even more common for a delivery worker to suffer an injury from a dog attack than an on-the-job car accident.
Tragically, some delivery workers lost their lives due to dog attacks in the last year. A pack of dogs killed a Florida mail carrier in August of 2022, and an Amazon driver was mauled to death by two dogs in Missouri in October of 2022.
In May 2022, a neighborhood in Greenfield, Indiana didn’t receive mail for weeks due to an ongoing problem with dog attacks. Loose dogs attacked multiple mail carriers, so USPS temporarily stopped mail to the area.
Indiana is considered a strict liability state regarding dog attacks. This means that a dog’s owner is responsible for any injuries caused by the pet, regardless of whether the owner knew or should have known the dog was dangerous.
The owner may not be entirely at fault in cases such as the victim trespassing on their property or provoking the dog. Postal workers delivering mail are not considered to be trespassing under the law.
Our state also features a “one-bite” rule. If a dog has never attacked a person or displayed aggressive behavior, the owner may not be liable for damages.
That said, this rule does NOT apply when a dog attacks a postal worker. If a dog attacks a postal worker or another government employee carrying out their duty, such as a police officer, the owner will be liable for damages.
If you are the victim of a dog attack, you may suffer incredibly serious injuries, including:
- Puncture wounds
- Soft tissue injuries
- Broken bones
- Facial injuries
- Nerve damage
- Emotional trauma
Mail carriers who suffer injuries can file a claim or lawsuit against the dog’s owner to recover compensation for surgeries, prescriptions, ongoing treatment, lost wages, loss of future earnings, and pain and suffering.
To hold the liable dog owner responsible, you must prove that:
- The person you’re filing against is the dog’s owner
- The dog attacked you
- You suffered damages
Some forms of evidence you can use to prove your case include:
- Photographic and video evidence
- Witness statements
- Police report
- Animal control report
- Medical records
- Records of lost wages
One important note is that the statute of limitations for dog attacks is only two years, so you have two years after the date of the incident to file a claim or lawsuit and pursue damages. Often, dog attack cases are complex and require time to investigate and gather evidence; thus, it’s best to contact a dog attack personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
If you were attacked by a dog in Indianapolis, you need to contact a seasoned legal team specializing in dog attack personal injuries. Fortunately, you’re in the right place. Contact the experts at Crossen Law Firm. We’ll help you prove your case and work to maximize your compensation. Call us today at 317-401-8626, or contact us online!