Reportedly, over 800,000 people nationwide suffer dog bite injuries each year. If you are a parcel delivery driver in California, you may be one of those victims or at risk of becoming one. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health holds your employer responsible for your health and safety, regardless of where your tasks take you.
As part of your safety training, your employer should explain the dangers posed by dogs and the potentially life-threatening consequences of dog bites. Following a dog bite, the lack of proper treatment could cause blood loss, infections, rabies, permanent nerve damage and other complications.
Circumstances that cause dogs to attack
Avoiding the following triggers could prevent dog attacks:
- The dog may be defending its space.
- The dog may be protecting its puppies.
- You might have startled the dog.
- The dog may be injured or sick.
- Dogs feel threatened while eating, chewing bones or playing with toys.
When you are out delivering parcels, be on the lookout for dogs. See every dog as a potential risk, regardless of the breed or friendly appearance.
Look out for the following behavior
Note that dogs would typically yawn, lick their lips and pant to calm themselves. Do not misunderstand that as non-aggression. The dog could unexpectedly flatten its ears, tuck its tail, crouch and eye you, all of which it does to warn you off.
If you do not back away, the final warning before the attack would involve growling and baring its teeth. Delivering a parcel could never be more important than preventing a dog attack. The most sensible step would be to contact the property owner and discuss a safe delivery option.
Crucial steps after a dog bite
If you fall victim to a dog attack, any penetration wounds need immediate treatment to limit infection or disease risks. Take the following steps immediately:
- Wash the wound thoroughly and bandage it.
- Consult with a doctor as soon as possible, regardless of the size of the bite wound.
- Keep in mind that the bacteria in a dog’s mouth could cause potentially fatal infections or rabies.
- Report the attack to authorities after receiving the necessary medical treatment.
What about your medical expenses?
Your next step would be to report the incident to your employer, who could get the workers’ compensation benefits claim process started. The California workers’ compensation insurance system covers medical expenses and lost wages on a no-fault basis. That means you are eligible for benefits regardless of whose fault caused the injuries.
Furthermore, you might even have grounds to file a third-party personal injury claim in a California civil court as well as filing a workers’ compensation claim. You would have to prove negligence on the dog owner’s part to make a civil lawsuit viable, but a successful claim could provide additional damage recovery.