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Does Online Shopping Increase the Risk of Dog Bites on Postal Carriers?

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently reported that the U.S. Postal Service has released data suggesting that dog bites of postal carriers are on the rise due to increased deliveries of goods purchased online. Reported dog attacks on letter carriers rose nationally in 2015 by a startling 782 over the previous year’s number, to a total of 6,549. Fifty-one cities make up the top 30 rankings, with Pittsburgh placing 25th, with 20 attacks. The most dangerous city was Houston, which reported 77 dog bites of postal workers. Cleveland and San Diego tied for second place with 58 attacks.

A Postal Service spokesperson recommends that postal customers place their dog in a room other than one with a front door when they know their letter carrier will be making rounds. Putting a large dog behind a flimsy screen often does little good, because dogs can leap through the screen and attack. Another suggestion is having parents instruct children not to take mail directly from letter carriers when their family dog is nearby, because the animal may interpret that gesture as threatening. Postal workers often lose significant work time from dog-bite injuries that can require more than one surgery to repair.

State Farm, one of the nation’s largest insurance companies, keeps track of dog-bite claims it pays on its homeowner’s insurance policies. California was the costliest state, where 383 dog-bite claims resulted in $18.3 million in settlements. But Pennsylvania ranked fourth in dog-bite claims filed by the general population.

Clearly, Pennsylvania dog owners can do a better job of protecting the public from unprovoked attacks. Fortunately, the law is on the side of the victim. Unlike other states that allow a dog “one free bite,” Pennsylvania holds dog owners accountable any time they are negligent in preventing their dog from biting. A dog owner might not be held liable for just anyone who enters their property and gets bit. But, in the case of postal carriers and other delivery people who have a legal right to enter onto the property, an owner who does not exercise care to restrain a dog from biting is almost certainly found to be at fault.

If you are the victim of a dog attack in western Pennsylvania, Rudberg Law Offices, LLC can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call us at 866-306-2667 or contact our Pittsburgh office online to schedule a free consultation.

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