Man’s best friend the dog may be, but ask anyone who’s been bitten by a dog, and they will tell you differently.
There have been some horrendous stories in the news over the last few years about the damage dogs can do when they are not properly controlled. Although deeply shocking, incidents in which someone (often a child) is killed by a dog are few and far between – but there are many dog attacks every year which go unreported by the press, and are no less traumatic. For one group of people, it’s a threat they face every day of their working lives. The story of ‘dog biting postie’ might be the stuff of cartoon legend, but for the people who deliver our post every day, it’s a very real problem, and no laughing matter.
Attacks on postal workers
In the year up to April 2017, nearly 2,500 post men and women were attacked by a dog – and most of those attacks happened in the garden or at the front door of the home they were delivering to. Although there’s been a 7% decrease in the number of attacks on postal workers from 2016, it’s still unacceptably high by any standards. Attacks on postal and delivery workers account for about 1/3 of all dog attacks too – and (this may come as a surprise) a report in 2016 suggested that it’s the Labrador that’s most likely to be responsible – not the pit bulls and other more notorious breeds.
Dogs and the Law
Of course, dog owners are responsible for the behaviour of their animals. In many cases, it’s poor training or mistreatment of the animal that makes it aggressive in the first place, but that’s beside the point. The Animals Act 1971 makes the owner of a dog responsible for injuries caused by it in many cases, and liable to pay compensation. It may also be possible to claim for compensation under the Occupiers’ Liability Act which imposes more general duties on someone to make their property safe for visitors such as the postie delivering the mail.
And if you think that compensation for personal injuries sustained from a dog bite might be a bit of a joke, think again. Compensation for dog bites is treated in the same way as any other personal injury claim – so if you are bitten by a dog – postman or not – and your injuries mean you are unable to work, this will be included, as well as damages for pain and suffering.
In addition to compensation that you may receive for personal injuries you suffered in a dog bite attack, the dog owner is likely to face sanctions including a fine or a prison sentence, and the dog may well be put down. These are criminal matters and will be dealt with by the criminal justice system, separately to any claim for compensation you are bringing, unless the matter ends up under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme if the dog owner isn’t insured.
Although it would be better not to be bitten by a dog, be assured that if the worst happens, you should be able to claim compensation for your injuries and for associated losses. We’re here to help you, and to advise you of the best course of action to take if you’ve been bitten by a dog – postie or not!
Call me – Georgina Parkin – or one of my brilliant personal injury solicitors if you have been bitten by a dog and require expert legal advice. All our initial consultations are free and there is no-obligation to instruct us. Hopefully we can offer you a No Win, No Fee agreement to pursue your compensation claim.
For more information on personal injury claims, read our “what can I claim for in my personal injury claim” blog post.