An increase in dog attacks is leaving Tampa Bay residents and mail carriers concerned.
Since October 2020, postal workers have been attacked by animals at an increasing rate. According to United States Postal Service statistics, there have been 6,000 such attacks reported nationwide. Thirteen workers have been attacked by dogs in St. Pete alone.
Nick Ehas, a mail carrier for the USPS, said he has close calls with dogs every month. There are 500 houses on his daily delivery route. During his 7 years with the USPS, he’s been bitten twice: once on the ankle and once behind the knee.
Ehas has learned to use his satchel when a dog attacks.
“It’s our wall between the dog. It makes us look bigger, and of course, if they get too close, we have to spray them [with dog spray we have],” Ehas said.
One local dog owner feels that irresponsible ownership is the reason for so many attacks. “You can’t just have a dog because you want a dog,” said Bryan Piotrowski, owner of 3 dogs. “They’re a lot of work.”
How to protect postal workers from animal attacks
David Walton, a spokesman for the USPS, said that being aware of what’s going on is the first step to avoid attacks.
Here are 5 things dog owners can do to help keep mail carriers safe:
- Be aware of when your mail is delivered.
- Put up your dog. Never open the door when the mail carrier is present because your pet may feel threatened.
- Don’t let the dog roam a fenced-in front yard.
- Teach your children not to open the door or gate as they may let the dog out accidentally.
- Educate yourselves and train your dogs appropriately.
Who’s liable under Florida’s premises liability laws?
There are a number of different scenarios and laws that can affect who’s liable for a dog bite:
- In Florida, if your dog bites someone, you’re responsible for the injury.
- If your dog bites someone on your property because they were negligent, then you’re less liable for the damage.
- If you display a sign that says “Beware of Dog” or something similar, and the animal bites a person who isn’t a government worker, postal worker or a child under the age of 6, then you won’t be liable for damages.
- If your dog bites someone breaking into your home illegally (trespassing), then you won’t be considered liable.
Is a mailman legally considered an invited guest?
Yes, postal workers and delivery drivers have an implied invitation to be on your property. It’s for a specific job purpose and for your benefit. Thus, you owe the mailman a duty to ensure their safety on your property.
If your dog attacks them while they’re doing their job, then you’ve breached your duty of care.
Is workers’ compensation available to postal carriers?
Generally, yes — though the injured postal worker may go through a federal compensation system instead of the state workers’ compensation system like most injured workers in Florida.
According to the American Postal Workers Union, “The Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) provides wage loss compensation and medical benefits to postal and federal employees who become injured or ill as a result of their duties.”
If you are a USPS, FedEx or UPS driver, and you’re attacked or bitten on your route, you are entitled to seek compensation. An expert attorney can help you get the financial peace you need to help recover through workers’ compensation, FECA or by filing a premises liability lawsuit against the property owner.
Don’t wait to get your case started. Because of Florida’s statute of limitations, it’s important to act now. Our trained and experienced staff at Lorenzo and Lorenzo is here to help you.