beware of dog attack

In November 2017, the Seattle Times featured a story about UPS driver, Kevin Backlund, who was surrounded and attacked by four pit bulls near Pullayup while delivering a package. He was able to climb on a flatbed trailer and call 911, but his three dozen injuries required more than 133 stitches.

There was no warning on Backlund’s UPS driver alerts and no signage on the property to notify anyone about the dogs. Through his attorney, the pit bulls’ owner, Jason Owens, claimed the package’s sender was supposed to notify UPS about the dogs, but the message wasn’t received. Owens and the other owner, Darryl Burgess, did not face criminal charges, but the pit bulls were euthanized. As of March 2018, Backlund was still in recovery from his injuries and had not returned to work. He filed a civil lawsuit against the owners which is pending in Superior Court. Backlund’s traumatic experience is a reminder of the dangers that mail carriers face when delivering to residences with dogs.

U.S. Postal Service Makes Dog Attack Prevention a Priority

According to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), there were 6,755 dog attacks on postal workers in 2017, up by 206 from 2016. This was the highest number in three decades and was attributed to the increase in internet shopping and seven-day-a-week doorstep delivery. To combat the rising number of attacks, USPS has been focusing on continuing education and dog bite prevention training as well as canine alerts on carriers’ scanners. Some progress has been made as evidenced by a decrease in dog attacks to 6,244 in 2017. However, USPS still considers “the number of dog attacks and bites together as the most prominent threat to carriers.

Dog Bite Statistics

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that about 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year, and 1 out of 5 bites becomes infected.
  • The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) reports that dog bite victims account for up to 5% of emergency room visits. As many as 800,000 people are admitted with dog bite-associated injuries to U.S. emergency rooms.
  • AVMA and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) report that the most frequent victims are small children, the elderly, and mail carriers.
  • In 2017, dog bites and other dog-related injuries accounted for over $100 million in liability claims paid by State Farm®. From 2008­ to 2017, State Farm paid over $1 billion for dog-related injury claims, a 57% increase in the amount paid over the past decade.
  • In 2017, many canine attacks reported by mail carriers came from dogs whose owners regularly used the phrase, “My dog won’t bite.”

Serious Dog Attack Injuries

Dog bite injuries can be life-changing. Most usually affect the arms, hands, legs, feet, head, and neck regions, where they can do a great deal of damage and significantly alter your daily routine. Some of the most severe dog bite injuries include:

  • Permanent scarring and disfigurement, especially to the face.
  • Infections that develop in scratches, cuts, and lacerations (particularly if left untreated).
  • Damage to nerves, tendons, tissues, and bones, which can inhibit mobility.
  • Broken bones.
  • Emotional and psychological trauma.
  • Transmission of rabies. 

Who Is Liable?

Laws vary from state to state. Some states allow the dog “one free bite,” meaning that the owner may not be liable if the dog does not have a history of dangerous or violent behavior. In many states, the owner can be held strictly liable for any dog bites that take place. In Washington State, the owner is strictly liable if the victim was lawfully on private property or public property when the bite occurred.

Contact an Experienced Dog Bite Attorney

Premier Law Group (PLG) believes that when a dog attack is the result of carelessness or negligence by an owner, that owner should be held accountable. We understand that medical treatment can be costly, and victims may require treatment for years after a dog attack. If you or a loved one has sustained a dog bite, it is important to work with an attorney who has a proven track record and the know-how to fight for the compensation that you deserve—coverage for medical bills, leave from work, and ongoing trauma. PLG has the expertise that you need! 

Please call us for a free consultation with one of our lawyers who can provide advice, guidance, and representation with compassion. Our goal is to answer your questions and share information, so you can make an informed decision about moving forward (with or without us as your attorney). Contact Premier Law Group at 206.285.1743.

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