With Rise in Online Shopping, Delivery Drivers Face More Risks for Dog Bite Injuries
Dog attacks have always been a concern for delivery drivers. Whether customers place too much trust in their pets or simply forget that they have a package on the way, the risk of being attacked by an unrestrained dog is a very real issue that leaves thousands of delivery drivers suffering from injuries each year.
But, with the rise of online shopping over the past few years, the risk of delivery drivers suffering dog bite injuries is now even greater.
Pandemic-Fueled Online Shopping Boom Leads to Increased Dog Attack Risk for Delivery Drivers
With lockdowns and restrictions keeping people at home, the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a boom in online shopping. Unable to go out shopping, people began ordering just about everything online. While services like DoorDash and Grubhub were already changing the way people ordered food, the pandemic led to delivery drivers with UPS, FedEx, Amazon, and other major carriers and retailers visiting people’s homes on a near-daily basis. Whereas most people used to only order online when the products they wanted weren’t available in stores, during the pandemic people began ordering things like toilet paper, toothpaste and other basic necessities.
The pandemic increased postal workers’ risk of suffering injuries in dog attacks as well. While USPS drivers were already used to visiting the same houses every day, before the pandemic they rarely had to get out of their vehicles. But, with more large packages onboard, drivers can’t always fit everything in residents’ mailboxes. As a result, the USPS reports that more than 5,800 drivers suffered dog attack injuries in 2020, and, in light of “the enormity of this serious issue,” it published dog safety tips for homeowners in 2021.
In short, more online shopping means more front-door deliveries, and more deliveries means more dog attacks against delivery drivers.
Why Dogs Attack Delivery Drivers
Even well-trained dogs will attack delivery drivers. There are a variety of reasons why. For example, even if a dog is well-trained, it may still attack a delivery driver because:
- The dog thinks it is defending its home and family. Dogs often attack strangers because they think they are defending their homes and families. Many breeds of dogs have protective instincts, and these instincts can overpower their training. Additionally, even well-trained dogs may think they are doing “the right thing” by attacking a stranger who is approaching their home.
- The dog feels threatened. Dogs also attack when they feel threatened. They will often perceive strangers as threats, or they may feel threatened by a delivery driver’s height or gait. Feeling threatened puts dogs into fight or flight mode, and if they don’t think they have anywhere to retreat safely, they will attack in an effort to protect themselves.
- The dog thinks it is playing. Attacks on delivery drivers can also involve dogs that think they are playing. Dogs may jump on delivery drivers or “play bite” and cause serious injuries. Dogs circling around delivery drivers’ feet or running past delivery drivers at speed can also cause drivers to fall—especially when they are carrying a large package to the dog owner’s front door.
- The dog is excitable. Dogs will also frequently jump on delivery drivers when they get excited. For example, if a customer is waiting with their dog on the front porch for a package to arrive, the dog may jump on the delivery driver when he or she approaches. Or, if a customer with a dog opens the front door to accept hand delivery, the dog may push through the door—either colliding with the delivery driver directly or knocking the door into the driver.
Dogs are unpredictable by nature. While responsible dog owners will train their pets, even this training won’t necessarily be enough to prevent their dogs from attacking in all circumstances. Since delivery drivers will often deliver packages to dozens of homes with dogs in a single day, delivery drivers are among those who are at the greatest risk in our society for suffering dog bites and other dog attack injuries.
What Delivery Drivers Should Do After Suffering Injuries in a Dog Attack
As a delivery driver in Ohio, it is important to understand your legal rights in the event that you get injured by a dog at a customer’s home. Delivery drivers will be entitled to financial compensation in most cases, and depending on the circumstances involved, they could have multiple claims for compensation.
Delivery drivers’ main options for recovering financial compensation for dog bites and other dog attack injuries include:
1. Filing a Claim Under Ohio’s Workers’ Compensation Law
Delivery drivers who work for companies like UPS, FedEx and Amazon can file workers’ compensation claims under Ohio law when they get injured on the job. While this will involve filing a claim with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) in some cases, many big companies (including Amazon) self-insure for workers’ compensation claims—meaning that they handle their employees’ claims directly.
2. Filing a Claim Under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA)
Postal workers employed by USPS can seek workers’ compensation benefits under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA). This federal law provides access to benefits roughly similar to those available under Ohio’s workers’ compensation law.
3. Filing a Claim Under the Homeowner’s (or Renter’s) Insurance Policy
In many cases, injured delivery drivers will be able to seek additional compensation by filing a claim under the dog owner’s insurance policy. Homeowner’s insurance and renter’s insurance policies both typically cover dog attacks, and these policies provide access to compensation above and beyond what delivery drivers can recover through workers’ comp.
Discuss Your Legal Rights with a Dog Bite Lawyer in Columbus, OH
Were you attacked by a dog on your delivery route in Ohio? If so, our lawyers can help you seek just compensation. To speak with a lawyer at our Columbus law offices in confidence, please call 888-444-7440 or tell us how we can reach you online now.