Even friendly dogs growl at a delivery driver or mail carrier. So, what happens when a dog bites one? Delivery drivers go door-to-door, and dogs can be territorial and think they need to guard their territory. This often leads to a bite that can be scary and painful for the victim who might wonder who is going to pay for the damages.
Getting Bit by a Dog in Washington State
Before we can answer that question, we need to look at Washington’s laws on dog bites. Generally speaking in Washington State, dog bite victims have a law that helps them get compensation for their injury. Before the legislature passed this law, if someone was bitten by a dog, the state’s “one bite rule” would apply that allowed dog owners to be free from liability if their dog hadn’t bitten anyone before.
It meant that if a dog wasn’t an aggressive breed and hadn’t shown tendencies that it might bite, then if it did, it wasn’t fair to the owner to make him or her pay. This left dog bite victims to prove that the owner of the dog was negligent in the handling of their dog before they could collect compensation.
Washington State’s dog bite laws create a “strict liability” rule for any bite damage done by their dog even if the dog hadn’t ever bitten anyone or shown signs of aggression. This supersedes the “one bite rule” and puts the liability squarely on the dog owner.
Washington Revised Code Section 16.08.050 states that the owner of a dog that injures a person is liable for damages suffered by the victim if:
- The injury came from a dog bite, and
- The victim was in a public place, or
- Lawfully in a private place.
The injury from the dog must have been from a dog bite and not just being scared by one or knocked down by a rambunctious dog. Also, the victim must be in a public place such as a sidewalk or out in the community.
The law exempts police dogs acting in their official duties, and it doesn’t apply if the victim provoked the dog.
Thus if a dog bites a person in a public place, the law applies. This doesn’t include another dog being bitten or if the person bitten was trespassing. Under those circumstances, the injured person must prove that the owner was negligent.
Is Your Door a Public Place?
Delivery drivers are always going to someone’s door, so if they get bit dropping off a package at the door, are they covered under the dog bite strict liability law?
Yes, under Washington law, when a delivery driver comes to the door, it’s considered “public” for that use. This covers mail carriers, or just about anyone who goes to the front door for a legitimate purpose.
If the delivery driver goes to the back yard to deliver a package, they might not be covered by the law unless expressly told by the owner that the package is to be delivered there. This would give the driver permission to be on that part of the property.
Types of Compensation for a Dog Bite Injury
After the medical bills, many people don’t know what else can be compensated when someone is bitten by a dog in Washington state. Basically, a person can seek any financial loss they suffer from the incident as well as intangible losses like mental anguish.
- Medical Bills
- Lost time from work
- Permanent disability
- Transportation to treatment
- Job retraining (if you can’t do your old job)
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
- Loss of Consortium (physical intimacy)
- Mental anguish, including PTSD
Spokane Dog Attack Lawyer
If you are a delivery person and are bitten by a dog, you need to immediately document the incident or report it to your employer or supervisor. If you can, get pictures of the area and even of the dog—if safe to do so. Then, you need talk to a talk to a Spokane Dog Bite Attorney. Call the knowledgeable and experienced attorneys at Crary, Clark, Domanico, & Chuang, P.S. for a free, confidential consultation.
We serve clients in Spokane, WA, Coeur d’Alene, ID, and surrounding communities and can go toe-to-toe with the insurance companies and their lawyers to get you fair compensation for your injuries. Call us at (509) 926 4900, or send us a message by clicking here.