Bitten by a Dog While Working? Know Your Legal Options | Belt, Bruner & Barnett P.C.

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Bitten by a Dog While Working? Know Your Legal Options

Jan 25, 2024 | Dog Bites

Dogs can be a hazard to those working outside or anyone whose profession takes them in or near private residences with pets. If a dog attacked you while you were working, you might have several options to recover compensation for your damages. You certainly don’t expect to be bitten on the job, but be aware that several parties could be liable.

Workers Most at Risk of Dog Bites

Dogs can be territorial and perceive any guest as a threat. Many occupations could face the risk of dog bites in their line of work, including:

  • Postal workers
  • Utility workers
  • Delivery drivers
  • Law enforcement and first responders
  • Home health care workers
  • Construction workers
  • Maintenance and utility workers
  • Landscapers and handymen

Your Legal Options after a Work-Related Dog Bite

If you’re attacked by a dog on the job, you may have a few options to consider. These include filing a workers’ comp claim or a claim against the dog’s owner or insurer.

File a Workers’ Compensation Claim

Alabama requires businesses with more than five employees to have workers’ compensation coverage. This coverage could allow you to claim compensation for your medical bills, a portion of your lost wages, and possibly disability if the dog bite left you permanently injured.

You only have to demonstrate that you were performing your job duties when you were bitten. Workers’ comp would not cover bites that occurred on a day off or while you were off the clock.

To file a workers’ comp claim in Alabama, you must immediately report the bite to your employer and seek medical attention. The incident must be reported within five days of the incident, or your claim could be denied.

After receiving the report, your employer should file the necessary paperwork to complete the claims process. If your employer denies liability or doesn’t cooperate, you can dispute the decision with the help of a workers’ comp attorney.

File a Claim Against the Dog’s Owner, Keeper, or Insurer

Alabama personal injury law favors dog bite victims in many cases. Dog bites are often covered under a property owner’s homeowners insurance. If you are working at a business such as a kennel that keeps a dog that bites you, you could have a claim against the company or its insurance. If the dog was under the control of someone other than its owner, its keeper can also be held liable regardless of where the incident transpired.

Alabama has several statutes covering grounds for a dog bite personal injury claim. Perhaps the most relevant  to work-related dog bites is  AL Code §3-6-1, often called the “mailman law.” This law states that a visitor is lawfully on the property if they have a legal reason, such as delivering mail or making public utility repairs. This statute applies if the property owner invited the visitor expressly or implicitly. The statute commonly applies to cases involving postal workers, delivery drivers, and utility servicemen.

The state’s vicious animal law (AL Code §3-1-3) could also apply if you were bitten by a “vicious or dangerous animal” due to its owner’s careless management. This statute could apply if the animal has a history of aggressive behavior or previous attacks. Local ordinances in your county or city could also affect your case.

Proving Dog Bite Liability in Alabama

A dog’s owner is liable if the individual bitten was on the owner’s property when they were bitten or if the dog followed the victim off the property.  If a property owner knows they will have a visitor, they should secure the dog in a crate or backyard and warn the worker of the danger. Posting a “Beware Dog” sign on the property is not enough to shield owners from liability if their animal attacks.

You’ll have to show that you were legally on the owner’s property and did not provoke or threaten the dog. Witness statements and reports from animal control or law enforcement can support your case and help you show the dog owner was negligent.

Filing an insurance claim or third-party lawsuit could help you recover damages for what workers’ comp won’t cover. This could include compensation for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. The damages you pursue will depend on the unique factors of your case and how you file your claim. A dog bite attorney can evaluate your case and help you decide the best path forward.

Call Belt, Bruner & Barnett P.C.

You deserve to be able to do your job safely and without fear of injury. If a dog owner’s negligence leads to their animal causing you harm while you’re working, they should be held accountable. You deserve compensation for your injuries, lost wages, and other losses.

The dog bite lawyers of Belt, Bruner & Barnett P.C. have decades of experience fighting for dog bite victims in Alabama.

Call (205) 933-1500 today or complete our online contact form to schedule a free initial consultation.