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Being bitten by a dog while working can be a scary and traumatic experience. Whether you work for a postal service, delivery company, or any other occupation that requires you to enter people’s properties, there is always a risk of dog bites. If this happens, it is important to know what actions to take next.

If you are bitten by a dog while working, it is typically considered a workers’ compensation claim. This means that your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance would cover medical expenses and lost wages related to the injury. However, if the dog was owned by a third party and not related to your job duties, it may also be considered a personal injury claim. It is important to report the incident to your employer immediately and seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Does Worker’s Compensation Apply?

Worker’s compensation is a benefit provided to employees who are injured at work as a result of their job duties. When it comes to dog bites, worker’s compensation may only apply if the bite occurred while the employee was carrying out their job. If an employee is bitten by a dog while working, their first step should be to seek medical attention immediately. Even small bites can quickly become infected, and it is essential to get appropriate care as soon as possible.

After seeking medical attention, the employee should inform their employer right away. The employer’s workers’ compensation insurance should cover any medical expenses and lost wages if the employee is required to take time off work to recover from their injury. However, a workers’ compensation claim may not apply if the employee was bitten while not in the course and scope of their work.

Personal Injury vs. Worker’s Compensation

In some situations, a dog bite at work may not be eligible for worker’s compensation and may instead be considered a personal injury claim. This is particularly true if the bite occurred on a property outside of the employee’s job duties.  If a dog bites an employee off the clock or during their lunch break, they may still seek compensation from the owner of the dog under the premises liability doctrine.

It should be noted that worker’s compensation cases may be paid out more quickly than personal injury claims. Personal injury claims can be lengthy, requiring extensive documentation and investigation. While the victim will likely recover more financial compensation in personal injury cases, these claims can take years to resolve.

Who’s Responsible?

Florida Statute 767.04 states that: “The owner of any dog that bites any person while such person is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, is liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owners’ knowledge of such viciousness”

In plain terms, if a dog bites someone, regardless if it is a worker or not, the owner of the dog is strictly responsible for the injury caused. The responsibility extends to any medical expenses incurred by the victim, lost wages, and even damages for pain and suffering. If the owner has homeowner’s, business, or renter’s insurance, the claim would be made against the owner’s policy, which typically includes third-party liability.

To avoid dog bites in the workplace, employers should have proper training procedures and protocols in place for their employees. Employers must also be cautious when interacting with dogs and are expected to follow any policies imposed by building owners where the employee is working.

We Can Help

Ultimately, if bitten by a dog while working, it is important to take the necessary steps to ensure medical treatment is received as soon as possible. Employees should inform their employers about the incident and seek medical attention immediately after the incident. The employer or employee should contact an attorney to determine whether the dog bite constitutes a workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury claim against the dog owner.

If you or someone you know has experienced a dog bite while on the job, contact our office today, and our team will help you establish a path forward.