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Dog ownership in America is higher than anywhere else and has increased in recent years. The growing acceptance of dogs in public spaces means that you are more likely to encounter dogs in all walks of life. But most dog attacks happen on the owner’s property or close to it.

If your job often involves entering onto homeowners’ private property, it could increase your odds of getting bitten. When a worker is attacked by a dog, the owner may be responsible for the costs. The victim may also be able to file a workers’ compensation claim if the attack occurred in the course of their employment.

Dog Bites Statistics for 2024

About 65 million U.S. households own dogs. These households collectively own nearly 90 million dogs, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Dog ownership has surged in the last few years in what has been called the “pandemic puppy” boom. Between 2016 and 2022, the percentage of dog-owning households increased from 38% to 45%. Around 40% of Ohio households own at least one dog.

Big or small, young or old, male or female, at home or at work, any dog can bite. Dogs bite an estimated 4 – 5 million people per year. About 800,000 of these bites require medical treatment.

Dog attack injuries can be expensive to treat. According to insurance industry data, insurers pay more than $1 billion per year in dog-related injury claims, at an average cost of $58,545 per claim in 2023.

Ohio ranked fifth in total dog bites claims for 2023. The average Ohio dog bite insurance claim was $39,119.

Dog Bites and Workers’ Compensation

As cliché as it might sound, postal workers are frequent targets of dog attacks, with approximately 6,000 such incidents per year.

In its annual report on dog bites, the United States Postal Service ranks Ohio as the third-worst state for postal worker attacks. Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus rank as the fifth, eighth, and tenth worst cities for USPS dog bites in 2023.

But it’s not just USPS workers who are at risk of dog bites. Delivery drivers for Amazon, FedEx, and UPS frequently encounter dogs. So do employees and independent contractors who deliver food and groceries. In fact, delivery drivers make up nearly one-third of all bite victims. Other occupations in which bites commonly occur include:

  • Electricians, plumbers, HVAC workers, painters, and other trade workers
  • Utility workers and meter readers
  • Trash collectors
  • Landscapers
  • Home health aides
  • Law enforcement and first responders
  • Workers at dog kennels, shelters, vet offices, and pet groomers

Ohio workers’ compensation covers injuries that occur during an employee’s regular job activities. The letter of the law is that injuries are compensable if they are sustained “in the course of, and arising out of” the injured worker’s employment.

Although there is a “coming and going rule” for employees with a fixed place of employment that may exclude certain injuries sustained in transit, this typically does not apply to workers (e.g., contractors and delivery workers) who do not perform all their duties in one single, fixed location.

However, each workers’ comp case is subject to a “totality-of-the-circumstances” test, so there could be cases—such as a UPS driver who gets bitten on his lunch break—that get complicated and require talking to a lawyer.

Dog Bites at Work and Homeowners’ Insurance

In addition to workers’ compensation, on-the-job dog bites may qualify for an injury claim against a dog owner.

While the law prevents injured workers from suing their employer or co-worker, workers can make third-party injury claims. So even when a worker is bitten by a dog and is eligible to receive workers’ comp, they may also be able to file an insurance claim or a lawsuit against the dog’s owner.

Both types of claims may be necessary to fully compensate a dog bite victim. Workers’ comp, for example, does not cover an employee’s pain and suffering, but a homeowners’ policy might.

Homeowners’ and renters’ insurance generally cover costs associated with dog bite injuries, up to the policy’s liability limits (usually $100,000 to $300,000). If a claim exceeds these limits, the dog owner is personally liable for any damages beyond the insured amount. This could necessitate filing a dog bite injury lawsuit.

Home and rental insurance may cover dog bites that occur on and off the policyholder’s property. This means that a policy might cover bites to a wide range of workers, such as delivery drivers, vet techs and pet groomers, and even somebody working at an office, store, restaurant, or in a public place.

Off-premises coverage depends on the individual policy, which may be restricted to premises only claims. Some policies also exclude dog bites, and others only cover a dog if the owner gets training for their pet or restrain it with a cage, chain, or muzzle, says the Insurance Information Institute.

Independent Contractors and Dog Bite Injuries

Many home contractors, delivery drivers, in-home care providers, and other workers are hired as independent contractors. These workers are not employees and do not receive workers’ compensation benefits through their employers. But independent contractors bitten at work may still have their medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering paid for by a homeowners’, renters’, or commercial insurance policy (for bites that occur at a place of business).

Attacked by a Dog at Work? Get a Free Case Review

“All in a day’s work” takes on a new meaning when you are attacked by a dog while working. Keep in mind that you don’t have to get bitten by a dog to receive workers’ comp or an insurance claim payout. Injuries sustained while attempting to avoid an aggressive dog, such as tripping or falling, may also qualify for compensation. To discuss your legal rights following a dog attack, contact Graham Law for a free case review.

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