Why Are Delivery Drivers More Susceptible to Dog Bites?
We at Foster Wallace, LLC get a lot of calls from delivery drivers related to dog attacks after delivering packages. According to a report from the National Dog Bite Prevention Week Coalition, delivery drivers were the third most common group of people to be bitten by dogs in 2020, after children and the elderly and dogs are more likely to attack delivery drivers during summer months than winter months. A study conducted by the United States Postal Service, there were 5,803 reported dog attacks on postal workers in 2020. Delivery drivers for companies like FedEx, Amazon, and UPS are more susceptible to dog bites because of the nature of their job. Here are some basic reasons why:
- Frequent home visits: Delivery drivers are required to make frequent stops at homes and businesses to drop off packages.
- Dogs may view delivery drivers as intruders.
- Delivery drivers are often under high stress and time pressure to complete their routes within a certain timeframe which can lead to rushed or careless interactions with dogs, which can increase the risk of a bite.
- Many delivery drivers are not provided with the training or equipment they need to protect themselves from dog bites.
Legal Issues Surrounding Dog Bites and Delivery Drivers
As online shopping has become more and more popular, companies like Amazon, FedEx, UPS, and others rely on a vast network of delivery drivers to get packages to people’s doors, but what happens when a delivery driver is bitten by a dog on someone's property? Dog bites can be incredibly serious, leading to significant injuries, emotional trauma, medical expenses, and legal claims. But when a delivery driver is involved, the situation can be even more complicated. Let’s take a closer look at the legal issues surrounding dog bites involving Amazon, UPS, and FedEx drivers.
In general, when a dog bites someone in Missouri, the owner or harborer of the dog is responsible for any injuries or damages that result. However, when a delivery driver is bitten while delivering a package, there may be several parties that could potentially be liable or pay for the medical expenses, including:
The Dog Owner
As mentioned, in Missouri, the owner of the dog is typically responsible for any injuries or damages caused by the animal no matter whether it was the first bite or the dog had bit before. This is different from some other states (like Kansas) where the dog owner is usually only liable if the dog had shown aggressive tendencies or bit before.
The Dog Harborer
Maybe someone was watching the dog while the owner was out of town and was negligent in not leashing the dog or allowed the dog to get out of the house or apartment, they could be found liable.
Amazon, FedEx, or UPS (Or other delivery companies such as DoorDash)
As the bite victim’s employer, Amazon, FedEx, or UPS may also be held liable for the injuries. Employers are generally responsible for the actions of their employees while they are performing their job duties. If a driver is bitten by a dog while delivering a package, the company may be held liable for any resulting injuries through a potential workers compensation action.
The Property Owner
In some cases, the property owner where the dog bite occurred may also be held liable for the driver's injuries. This could be the case if the property owner knew or should have known about the dog's aggressive behavior and failed to take appropriate precautions to protect visitors. This usually does not apply to landlords, however, in Missouri unless the landlord knew the dog was dangerous and had prior complaints about the dog and turned a blind eye.
Dog Bite Insurance Claims
One of the biggest issues in any Missouri (or any other state) dog bite case is whether there is insurance to compensate the injured victim. Missouri is among the top 10 states in the United States for dog bite insurance claims. According to the Insurance Information Institute, Missouri ranks 9th in the country for the number of dog bite insurance claims, with 263 claims in 2020.
If there is insurance, most dog bite cases settle without going to trial through negotiations between the injured party and the defendant or their insurance company. Settlement negotiations typically begin after the injured victim has completed their medical treatment and the extent of their injuries and damages is fully known. The injured party’s attorney will gather evidence, including medical records, police or animal control reports, and witness statements, to support their claim for compensation. They will then present a demand letter to the insurance company, outlining the amount of compensation they are seeking and the evidence supporting their claim. The insurance company then usually makes a counteroffer and the parties negotiate until they reach an agreement on a fair settlement amount. If a settlement cannot be reached, the case may proceed to a lawsuit. While most dog bite cases settle out of court, it is still important for the injured party to prepare their case as if it will go to trial. This means gathering and preserving evidence, getting medical treatment and following doctor’s orders.
Dog bites involving delivery drivers can be a complicated legal issue. Delivery drivers should know it is difficult to provide an exact figure for the average settlement for a dog bite case in Missouri since each case is unique and settlement amounts vary depending on several factors, such as the severity of the injuries, where the injuries occurred on one’s body, the amount of medical treatment involved, the circumstances surrounding the incident, and the insurance coverage of the parties involved.