According to the Postal Service, more than 5,400 mail carriers are injured each year in the United States. Despite all efforts by the agency to reduce dog bite incidents involving their employees, including educating the public on keeping their dogs restrained during normal delivery hours, it seems that the public is least bothered by their dogs attacking mail carriers.
Many people fail to realize that the post office can stop mail over dog bites as a last resort to ensure the protection of their mail carriers. Let’s dive into the lives of postal workers with Ehline Law and our dog bite attorneys to understand the risks they face and how dog bite injuries can affect your mail deliveries.
Training 101: Dog Owners Lie about Their Dogs
Every postal service trains its delivery employees, and they emphasize the most on the employees’ first day not to trust the dog owners when it comes to their dogs.
“He’s a good boy,” “He hasn’t done that before,” and “Don’t worry, my dog doesn’t bite” are some of the things mail carriers hear regularly.
Many mail carriers suffer dog bite injuries after the resident convinces them their dog is not aggressive and will not bite. Although videos circulating TikTok and other social media platforms may seem funny to viewers at home, it is a traumatic experience for mail or letter carriers, especially those who suffer dog bite injuries.
The Worst Mile: Injury Crisis in Amazon’s Delivery System
According to Pinnacol Assurance, Colorado’s largest workers’ compensation insurer, the top five injuries sustained by Amazon delivery workers include:
- Slip and fall
- Strains and sprains
- Dog bites
- Vehicle accidents
- Hitting an object.
Although dog bites can often injure a mail or letter carrier, in some cases, dog bites can lead to death. On October 24, 2022, residents of the Wood Heights area of Excelsior Springs, Missouri, rang up the Ray County Sheriff’s office to report an Amazon delivery van parked in the neighborhood for hours.
When the police and emergency services arrived, they found the body of the Amazon delivery driver with two dogs ready to attack the officers. The Amazon mail carrier was dead, and there was blood near the doggy door of the house, suggesting that the dogs were responsible for the death of the Amazon delivery driver. After law enforcement concluded the initial investigation, the police reported canine bites on the mail carrier and extreme trauma exerted on the body.
On August 21, 2022, Pamela Jane Rock, a postal service mail carrier, got out of her vehicle after the truck broke down to inspect the cause of the problem. Unfortunately, five dogs, escaping under the home’s fence, mauled her down. Nearby residents tried to protect the mail carrier by scaring away the dog, but it was too late.
Rock suffered serious injuries and required amputation at the hospital before going into cardiac arrest. Although the doctors revived rock, her condition remained unstable, and she died a few days later from the trauma.
The Postal Service Can Refuse to Deliver Mail Because of a Dog
Although the local post office continues to promote responsible pet ownership, it has the right to cancel mail delivery as a last resort to protect its mail and letter carriers. Suppose the company’s mail carriers have several unfortunate encounters in a particular location. In that case, they have the authority to decide on the local level whether they want to keep delivering mail in that neighborhood.
When the local office decides that their mail carriers are no longer safe in a particular area, they will stop their mail delivery service in that neighborhood and require residents to pick up their mail from the local post office.
After a dog attack in 2020, Amazon postal service suspended delivery service in Jacksonville, Florida. Postal companies suspended mail delivery services in parts of Des Moines, Iowa, Cleveland, Ohio, Greenfield, Indiana, and Virginia in 2022 after mail carriers complained that they no longer felt safe delivering in those neighborhoods.
USPS issued a statement when there was a dog attack in Cleveland, stating that although the company aims to provide great customer service and ensure the safety of its workers, it cannot continue its postal service in the Cleveland neighborhood until the threat to its employees is over.
According to USPS, California, Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan were the top 5 states with the most dog bite incidents in 2021. USPS has also issued multiple public service announcements emphasizing dog owners to restrain their pets when the letter carrier arrives.
Dog Attack Prevention Tips for Mail Carriers: Preventing Dog Attacks While at Work
Below are some of the tips mail carriers must use to ensure their safety while delivering mail and letters:
- Avoid running from aggressive and unrestrained animals when they approach you, as that can trigger a chase response.
- Carry a dog repellent to ward off dogs in case a dog tries to attack you. Always check your dog repellant can before starting your day.
- Report any dog bite incident to your supervisor to ensure your co-workers are also cautious when delivering in those neighborhoods.
- Stay alert, and observe the area before leaving your delivery truck.
- Avoid wearing headphones or earbuds during deliveries, as it can adversely affect the ability to hear and know your surroundings.
- Avoid handing out mail to children at home as dogs are more protective of children leading them to launch a full-blown attack.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Ehline Law
A worker (mail carrier, letter carrier, and any other employee) cannot pursue a personal injury lawsuit against a dog owner if they suffer injuries while on the job since there is the Workers’ Compensation and Federal Employees’ Compensation Act depending on the status of the employee. However, others can bring a dog bite lawsuit against the dog owner to recover the damages under California’s strict liability law.
If you’ve suffered dog bite injuries in California, contact us at (833) LETS-SUE for a free consultation, as you may be able to seek compensation.