U.S. Postal Service (USPS) carriers work hard to deliver mail to addresses across Wheeling, Illinois. While most deliveries are made without incident, postal workers face the risk of dog attacks on the job each day. When dog owners fail to secure their pets, they can bite and cause dangerous injuries. USPS employees who suffer dog bites have the right to obtain compensation through a personal injury claim against the dog’s owner. Briskman Briskman & Greenberg’s skilled Wheeling USPS dog bite attorneys are dedicated to helping injured postal workers on the road to recovery after a vicious dog attack.
USPS Worker Dog Bites by the Numbers
Dog attacks on mail carriers are a common hazard of the job. More than 5,400 U.S. postal workers were attacked by dogs in 2021. Illinois had 226 dog bites that year, ranking the seventh highest out of all states.
Among U.S. metropolitan areas, Chicago ranked eighth nationwide with 35 dog bite incidents that involved mail carriers in 2021. As Wheeling is a suburb of Chicago, this concerning data point emphasizes that the safety of USPS workers should not be taken for granted. Around 32 percent of households in Illinois own a dog, which means the chances of postal workers encountering a dog are high.
Dog Bite Injuries
What makes dog attacks so harmful is that along with causing painful physical injuries they can also result in devastating emotional trauma. Dog bites can range from nips to horrific attacks that lead to nerve damage or permanent disability. Medical expenses can quickly add up with surgery, rehabilitation, prescription medications and other costs. Wheeling USPS mail carriers may even have to take time off work to heal from their injuries.
While the nature and severity of dog bite injuries can vary, here are some types of injuries that are reported among USPS workers:
- Cuts and lacerations
- Fractures and broken bones
- Nerve damage
- Torn ligaments
- Puncture wounds
- Facial injuries
Dog bites can cause scarring and other types of disfigurement when there is severe damage to the skin and connective tissue. In serious cases, a Wheeling USPS employee may even lose body parts like a finger or ear because of a dog attack.
If you are bitten by a dog, it is vital to seek immediate medical attention. One of the most significant risks of dog bites is infection. Around 10 to 20 percent of dog bites may result in infection. Dogs carry lots of bacteria in their mouths, such as Pasteurella and Staphylococcus, which have the potential to cause infections. They can be life-threatening if left untreated.
Is My Dog Bite a Personal Injury Case or a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
After a work-related accident, filing a workers’ compensation claim is typically the only option available to injured employees. Workers’ compensation allows injured workers to obtain medical benefits and income-replacement benefits without proving someone else was at fault for their injuries. However, workers are unable to recover compensation for their non-economic damages.
As a Wheeling USPS worker who is injured in a dog attack, you are not limited to a workers’ compensation claim. You can file a personal injury lawsuit against the dog owner responsible for the dog bite. Bringing a dog bite claim allows you to recover non-economic damages in addition to economic damages. The amounts are typically far greater than the benefits you would receive through a workers’ compensation claim.
Damages in a Wheeling USPS dog bite claim may include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost income
- Decreased earning capacity
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Disfigurement or disability
Briskman Briskman & Greenberg can advise you on the possibility of filing a personal injury claim against the owner of the dog that bit you. Our Wheeling USPS dog bite attorneys will evaluate the details of your case and work toward a resolution that maximizes your compensation. We will take care of the legal process on your behalf while you focus on recovering from your dog bite injuries.
Illinois Dog Bite Liability
Illinois is a strict liability state. Under state law, it does not matter whether a Wheeling dog owner knew their pet might be dangerous or if it has a history of attacking people. The owner is liable any time their dog injures someone. The law applies even when a dog bites for the first time.
A dog bite victim is not required to prove the dog owner was guilty of negligence in order to show liability. However, the strict liability statute holds that a dog bite victim must have been peaceably conducting themselves without provoking the animal. Additionally, the dog attack must have occurred in an area where the victim was legally allowed to be.
USPS workers are lawfully permitted to enter a dog owner’s property as part of their job to deliver mail. Thus, injured mail carriers can hold a dog owner liable for failing to properly secure their dog in an enclosure or on a leash.
A Wheeling USPS dog bite attorney can help you establish liability in your case. Briskman Briskman & Greenberg is experienced in pursuing full compensation for injured postal workers. We know how to stand up to insurance companies who may unfairly try to minimize the extent of your injuries to pay you a smaller amount than you deserve.
What is Responsible Dog Ownership?
A crucial part of being a responsible dog owner is taking steps to keep postal workers safe. Many owners are under the misconception that because their dog is friendly, it will not bite.
According to the USPS, dog attacks reported by postal workers often come from dogs whose owners regularly claimed, “My dog won’t bite.” However, dog attacks are not just limited to so-called dangerous breeds like pit bulls or Rottweilers. All dog breeds have the potential to bite.
Dogs of various breeds share similar traits, including the instinct to protect their owners and their property. Dog attacks often occur when an animal tries to defend its territory from a perceived threat, such as a mail carrier.
The USPS regularly reminds customers to take safety precautions with their dogs while the mail is being delivered. Minimizing interactions between dogs and mail carriers helps USPS workers carry out their job duties without the fear of being bitten by a dog.
Most people know the approximate time their mail arrives each day and can secure their dog accordingly. Wheeling dog owners should make sure their pet is:
- Inside the home
- Away from the door
- Behind a fence
- On a leash
Additionally, dog owners should ensure their children do not take mail directly from a USPS worker as the dog may view the carrier as a threat. Wheeling dog owners can also sign up for the free Informed Delivery service that provides advance notification of when their parcels are being delivered.
Safety Tips for Wheeling USPS Workers
Wheeling dog owners are responsible for keeping their pets indoors or leashed to reduce the chances of an attack. Unfortunately, dog owners can be careless in fulfilling this duty. As a result, there may be scenarios in which mail carriers encounter dangerous dogs that bite. Even dogs that have no history of attacking have the potential to bite unexpectedly.
Wheeling USPS postal workers are trained on how to handle dog interactions along their route. They are taught to avoid eye contact with dogs, refrain from petting or feeding them, remain vigilant at all times and never assume that a dog will not bite. Because avoiding homes that have dogs is not practical, USPS also provides mail carriers advice on how to stay safe in case of a dog attack:
- Remain calm. When you are approached by a dangerous-looking dog, you may instinctively want to scream or run. Dogs, however, have a natural tendency to chase people who run. Stay still until the dog goes away. Instead of running off, back away slowly from the dog while facing it. Avoid turning around as the dog may view it as an opportunity to attack you.
- Create a barrier between you and the dog. Without any sudden movements, slowly place your mail satchel or some other object between you and the dog. Along with acting as a physical barrier to protect you in case of an attack, it will also disrupt the dog’s line of sight. Use dog repellent if necessary.
Despite taking every precaution and using safety protocols, Wheeling USPS workers can and do still suffer dog bites. The USPS has stated that if a postal employee feels unsafe doing their job because of a loose or threatening dog, mail service may be halted for the entire neighborhood. In such situations, service will not resume until the dog is properly restrained. Customers must pick up their mail at the area’s Post Office until then.
Time Limit for Filing a Wheeling Dog Bite Claim
The statute of limitations determines how long you have to file a personal injury claim after suffering a dog bite. Under Illinois law, the statute of limitations for a dog bite claim is typically two years from the date of the incident.
If you fail to file your dog bite claim within this timeframe, you may no longer be able to recover compensation. By working with a Wheeling USPS dog bite attorney, you can protect your right to pursue damages against the responsible dog owner before the statute of limitations expires.
Contact a Wheeling USPS Dog Bite Attorney Today
Are you a Wheeling USPS worker who was injured in a dog attack? You have the right to recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages and other costs from the dog owner.
Since 1987, Briskman Briskman & Greenberg has helped injured clients win favorable settlements and jury verdicts in personal injury cases. Our Wheeling USPS dog bite lawyers are dedicated to holding dog owners accountable when their pets bite and injure a postal worker. To learn more about pursuing a Wheeling USPS dog bite claim, contact us for a free consultation.