Dog Bite: To Sue Or Not To Sue

Discussion in 'UPS Discussions' started by brownclown, Apr 14, 2006.

  1. brownclown

    brownclown New Member

    First post here so a brief background. Package Driver with 25 years at UPS with 5 of those years PT. Most of my customers are commercial or business accounts but recently I've been getting about 15 to 20 extra residential stops a day. I don't mind the extra work as it breaks up the monotony, but more often than not I'll end up breaking away from doing del's to start pickups and then resuming del's driving extra miles in a fully loaded 10 Cube. So much for efficiency but I digress, and that may be a topic for another discussion.

    Here's the story: Out doing my resi's and I approached a house to deliiver a pkg with a known aggressive dog (usually tied up in front yard when out) that always barked menacingly when the brown truck drove by. I would think to myself "better avoid that one". Well, as I got about 10 feet from the front door, a young boy (about 8-10 yrs old) opened the front door and guess what bolted out and headed straight for me. No time to sprint for the truck so I kept my DIAD and pkg in front of me trying to fend off the attacking dog. The dog however was determined to get a piece of me and lunged again. I turned sideways in order to avoid a bite to my groin area and in the blink of an eye the dog was able to bite my left elbow and left butt cheek (not funny). At this point the dog backed off either because the happy homeowner was able to distract it or it was waiting for me to make my move. Well, move I did right back to the truck to assess my injuries. I wasn't feeling much pain (then) figuring doggy didn't get me too bad. I drove to the next stop and there was a guy in the front yard working so I asked him for a band-aid thinking the cut on my elbow wasn't real bad since it didn't hurt much. I messaged the center to report the bite and they had me call in right away and I told them I didn't think it was too serious and I could probably finish out the day. Well the guy came out with the band-aid but it was pretty obvious a band-aid wasn't going to stop the bleeding on my elbow from a cut that eventually required 6 stitches. He brought me a towel instead and helped tie it around my arm and I was able to finish out my day. Having never been bit by a dog before I now realize that this waiting for treatment may have been incredibly poor judgement on my part. It was now 7:15 PM and the Doctor looked at my injuries and asked "When did this happen?" "Oh, about 3:15" I said. Needless to say he was more than a little perturbed at me for waiting so long to get it checked out. "These dog bites get infected more often than not", he scolded. I got a tetanus shot and 6 stitches on my elbow and the bite on me arse cleaned up. The doctor gave me no restrictions and prescribed an antibiotic for 5 days. Needless to say, my management team was pleased about the no restrictions part as this would've resulted in a different classification of injury resulting in a cataclysmic series of events the likes of which make management types shudder with fear. That being said though, they gave me the option of the next 2 days off (without pay) or I could come in and do light office work or do my route. The day after the bite I felt like I'd been on the losing end of a fight and opted for the day off and took the following day off also which brings me to my dilemma. I've lost 2 days pay by my choice. I generally don't believe suing people is the best answer but many people have suggested to me that it is a no-brainer. Maybe this is a personal decision but I'd like to hear from some of you folks out there. I'd especially like to hear from other drivers that have been bitten and whatever may have resulted from it. Thanks, BC
  2. moreluck

    moreluck golden ticket member

    I'll put it to you this a law suit, the biter loses, the bitee wins.

    Now, it's up to you what you want to do. I would at least do small claims for whatever the max. amount is in your state.

    My dad was bitten by a dog in a car as he walked between 2 cars in a parking lot. The window was rolled down and the dog lunged out the window and got him in the upper arm. He did the small claims court and got $1000 for his bite. It wasn't a severe bite.

    Owners are liable probably 99.9% of the time for the actions of their dogs especially where there's a leash law and the dog was unleashed.
  3. dannyboy

    dannyboy From the promised LAND

    I agree with More. you lost two days worth of wages, plus the benifits for those days. You should be reimbursed for those losses. Chances are UPS will sue them for the medical bills. ( they have done that successfully here several times.) Last year they sued a home owner because one of our drivers was instructed by the home owner to only leave the packages at the front door, an unsafe walk path, that he attemtped after dark and broke an ankle. I believe the insurance settled for 14 grand with UPS.

    On a side note, back when we were on paper, I had a customer sic their dog on me. Without looking up, I told them "careful, that "sic im" in the state of Tennessee is assault with a deadly weapon" and that I would press charges.

    Might want to check it out from state to state, but if an owner laughingly or not sics their dog on you, press charges. A dog bite is no laughing matter.

    d PS, yes you were less than smart for waiting for medical treatment.
  4. wily_old_vet

    wily_old_vet New Member

    Why don't you contact the owner of the dog first and ask them to reimburse you for the lost wages. The worst they can say is no and if they do then go ahead and sue. I would also see who you should contact about this dog, if he is known to be aggressive. I am a animal lover but this is unacceptable behavior, both from the dog and the owner.
  5. OldUPSDriver

    OldUPSDriver New Member

    Is animal control to be notified to have to dog put in quarantine for a period of time??
  6. you should lose any court fight because the dog was in the house when you arrived. An 8 year old let the dog out. 8 year olds can't be sued for negligence.

    That's not my opinion...that's the law.
  7. toonertoo

    toonertoo Most Awesome Dog Staff Member

    Brownclown, first the dog needs to be checked to see if his shots are up to date and if not needs to be quarantined, or watched for 10 days. All of this is taken care of through the local police dept. this dog needs to be tagged legally. Tetanus will not help if he has rabies, distemper or heartworm, or parvo.
    2nd. people need to be responsible for their pets, and that is what I hate about resi where everyone opens their door, and tell me it wont bite, etc, while its frothing at the mouth to get a piece of me. I say sue, it is under homeowners ins. and it will raise their rates, and when it hits the pocket people learn. It is irresponsibility, on the owners part, pure and simple. Anyone who has a dog known to be aggressive, needs to have the ability and controls in place to deal with it. What if it had been a kid going around fund raising, or selling girlscout cookies. I doubt they would have fared as well as the Big ole UPS guy.
    3rd. I never had a fear of dogs in my life, until I was attacked. It changed my whole life. I would hear my own keys jingle and it would scare me. And when you approach an area with a dog, and you are sending of the smell of fear, he knows it, if he never bit before he will bite you, coz he senses the fear, and it scares him.
    4th. I didnt think mine was that bad either, as you described, it is called shock. And by the time my husband got the dog off of me my bicep was a memory, and a big stringy thing hanging out of my arm. 2 weeks off with no pay, as it happened in my neighborhood. Not at work. But in my case the guy had no homeowners so I was SOL.
    5. I am a dog lover, I have had recently 2 dobermans, best dogs I have ever had, and not ever mean. But I dont let it go meet everyone at the door. And if I had children at home they would know not to answer the door until dog is contained. Because who knows what a dog thinks. And our uniforms and our trucks seem to set off an alert. Good luck to you, get that mutt checked. And I say go for as much as you can get, medical, time lost, and psychological damages. It will affect you.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2006
  8. over9five

    over9five Senior Member Staff Member

    Sue them. No question.

    On a side note, has the owner contacted you (or UPS), to see how you're doing and to apologize?
  9. trickpony1

    trickpony1 Well-Known Member

    You may want to send a certified letter, return receipt requested, to the owner of the dog explaining your situation and asking what he intends to do about it.
    This would put him on notice.
    If he doesn't respond or refuses the letter then I believe you have grounds to pursue the matter legally, of course, I'm not an attorney like an earlier anon poster is.
  10. dannyboy

    dannyboy From the promised LAND

    When it comes to the law, opinions are like rectums, everybody has one and many of them stink.

    You put 100 lawyers in a room and give them an open and shut case and see what different opinions you have.

    Then add to that the fact that any body can post here and claim anything. That same 8 year old goes for a joy ride and kills someone. So just because the people left the car in the garage keeps them from responsibility? I dont think so.

    Go back to law school and learn something.:cool:

  11. DS

    DS Fenderbender

    I was doing a resi once and a dog dove at the screen door forcing me to jump backwards off the porch.The bugger bit me on the leg very close to
    the family jewels.The owner subdued him only after 3 or 4 good whacks
    to the head with my old diad1.If she hadn`t I would`ve resorted to my
    little boxcutter.It didn`t bleed much but he did break the skin.The lady
    was near tears thinking that she`d lose her dog.I didn`t act on it.
    Called the center and they made me call it a day to go for a tetanus shot.
  12. over9five

    over9five Senior Member Staff Member

    A driver here got almost $2,000 when he sued for a dogbite. Not a lot, but well worth it.
    If you still have a scar in 6 months (permanent scarring), you can sue them again.

    If they didn't want to be sued, they wouldn't have let their dog bite you.

    I would sue them just because it pisses me off that people would lose control of their pet so that it attacks someone.

    If you're going to keep such a pet, you better be ready to pay the consequences if YOU let it attack someone.

    And if your pet ever attacked one of my children, you wouldn't be dealing with just a lawsuit. You'd be dealing with me.
  13. If my 8 year old kid let one of our family pets out of the house without my permission and an intruding stranger on my property was bitten...

    I would say "badd doggie" and shake my finger at it for doing it's job and
    that would be the end of it........

    but if that stranger filed a law suit against me or theatened me in any way....

    I would definately file a restraining order against him (or in this case ...if necessary... his employer ...the ENTIRE COMPANY of UPS)....

    and that would just be a start......
  14. toonertoo

    toonertoo Most Awesome Dog Staff Member

    Over9five, my sentiments exactly.
    I am not a sue happy person, but a dog can be a lethal weapon, and there are too many stupid people owning them.
    Therefore as much as I hate the law being involved in things I would rather handle myself, It should be reported, if only to start a paper trail on idiot owners who need to be controlled, and control their animal. This time it turned out, OK, what about the next poor sucker who walks up on that porch.
    And here it is mandatory to call the police, I did not the neighbor who saw the attack did, and the police told me that all animal attacks have to be reported to authorities.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2006
  15. scratch

    scratch Least Best Moderator Staff Member

    The bottom line is that you were injured on the job. I think that UPS should cover all medical costs and lost work time. Of course the company will try to get out of it, I hope you filed an Injury Report that day. I have been bitten several times over the years in "my dog doesn't bite" situations. Luckily, my wounds were minor compared to yours. A dog bite doesn't hurt at first, but even a minor one could lead to rabies. I would contact the homeowner if you feel strongly enough to file in court and see if they will make good. The homeowner is ultimately liable because they have an aggressive dog that attacked you on their property. You have a legal right to be on the outside of that house on that property because they ordered something that you delivered. If this is your regular route, you will have to deal with these people as long as you keep it.
  16. toonertoo

    toonertoo Most Awesome Dog Staff Member

    That is another thing to consider Scratch king, you do have to deliver to them continuously if on your route, I would just sit outside and blow the horn. Been there, done that, do it.
    Im still emotional on this issue as it has been only 6 yrs. Seems like a long time but it still is a very fresh would to me, which is why I say it will affect him. Im not a wimpy girl, but it incapacitated me for a while. It may be a he/she thing. A man may handle it more bravely than I. It ruined me to this day.
    The last Doby I adopted, snuck in behind me when I went outside to get wood, never heard or saw a thing, when I turned around and saw her, I damn near had heart failure. I thought it was a black bear she was so big. ....... She stayed until she passed away last yr.
    But my initial reaction was to scream bloody murder. I think she helped me trust big dogs again. RIP
  17. brownclown

    brownclown New Member

    Hey Everybody, Thanks for weighing in. As of this moment I've had no contact with the owners and really the only info I have is where they live. I know they've been contacted by my immediate sup's and were assured the dog's shots were up to date. I'm going on faith that this is true for now since legally a report has to be filed (presumably by UPS since I didn't file one) and that the animal must be quarantined after biting someone. I was also told that it would now be in the hands of the insurance company representing UPS. I really haven't had a lot of discussion about the incident with mgmt. but I imagine come Monday morning I'll have a few questions. My guess is that if I pursue a lawsuit that it would be on my own initiative and that hopefully UPS will back me up with some documentation. I've owned dogs my whole life and have a healthy respect for what they are capable of. I have the good fortune of living in the country where a dog can roam the lot without being chained up. I can't imagine my dog attacking a person in this manner and I would'nt own a dog that didn't have a good disposition or was aggressive to children and strangers. It's unfortunate because I see many many dogs tied up or locked in the house or kenneled all day long and I can't help but think that this would have some negative affects on them. Of course some folks want their dogs to be mean but that is different than the family pet. I'll have a better idea of where I'm headed with this by next week so I'll just stop rambling for now. Happy Easter Everyone!
  18. toonertoo

    toonertoo Most Awesome Dog Staff Member

    yeah I grew up where they were running everywhere, no fear. And I would never own a vicious one either, what is the point?
    And the poor ones tied to a chain til the chain grows into their neck...Those are some great owners....never get petted, or a bath, or sleep next to you on the floor.
    Guess I should belong to PETA....NOT
    Just wish they could all be loved, then they would not be mean.
  19. dannyboy

    dannyboy From the promised LAND

    In our area, if you seek medical attention at the ER, a report is filed and the dog that bites someone by law must be held by the county under quarantine. The officer is dispatched to pick up the dog that day if possible. It does not matter if the owner can prove the dog has had their shots.

    Also, just because the owners say the shots are up to date dont mean a thing. They must have proof of the shots. They are given records that they need to make copies of and furnish the company and the driver. Dont settle for a verbal. Around here, dog bites and you can not prove shots, it is a large fine and possible time depending on the situation.

  20. Next time you come across a USPS person, ask them if the mace they carry is effective. I notice a lot of them carry one..I wonder why we can't have those.......