Steps to Take After a Dog Bite Injury at Work

Live Chat

Steps to Take After a Dog Bite Injury at Work

By Steven Jensen
September 18, 2023

From postal service employees to plumbers and landscapers, a wide range of professionals in Utah face the risk of dog attacks while on the job. Dealing with a dog bite injury at work goes beyond just nursing wounds—it encompasses navigating a complicated landscape involving personal injury laws, workers’ comp, medical bills, and more. At Parker & McConkie, we have honed our expertise in personal injury cases, including those involving dog bite injuries, and offer free consultation services to help you understand your rights and legal avenues.

Immediate Aftermath: Crucial Steps to Follow

1. Seek Medical Attention

First and foremost, your health is the priority. Seek medical attention immediately to receive the appropriate medical care. This is vital not just for your well-being but also as a necessary foundation for any personal injury claim or dog bite case you may file later.

2. Avoid Admitting Fault

In the aftermath of the incident, it’s natural to feel various emotions. However, avoid making statements that can be interpreted as admitting fault. For example, refrain from saying things like “I shouldn’t have been standing there” or “I usually pet that dog.” These types of statements can complicate any potential legal claims.

3. Identify the Dog and Owner

If the dog belongs to a colleague or was brought into the workplace, it’s essential to identify the dog and its owner. This information will be crucial in establishing responsibility and determining if the dog had previous aggressive tendencies or a history of biting.

4. Report the Dog Attack

The next step is to notify your supervisor or HR department to initiate a workers’ compensation claim. Make sure you receive a copy of this report. Timely reporting is essential, especially when medical bills start to pile up.

5. Document the Scene and Injuries

In dog bite cases, pictures are worth a thousand words. Take photos of your injuries, any torn clothing, the area where the attack occurred, and the dog itself, if possible. These images can provide compelling evidence in your personal injury case.

6. Witnesses Are Crucial

For professions that are particularly at risk—such as postal workers, delivery drivers, and plumbers—witness testimonies can significantly bolster your case. Obtain contact information from anyone who witnessed the dog attack.

7. Remember the Statute of Limitations for Utah Dog Bite Cases

In Utah, there’s a specific timeframe called the statute of limitations that dictates how long you have to initiate a lawsuit in civil courts. If you’ve suffered a dog bite injury within the state, a four-year window is provided for you to pursue your case legally. This period generally starts from the day the injury occurred. However, depending on various circumstances, the application of this rule can differ. 

Workers’ Compensation Claim: Your First Legal Avenue

1. File the Workers’ Comp Forms

Utah law requires employers to provide workers’ compensation benefits for injuries incurred on the job, including dog bites. Complete and submit the necessary claim forms promptly to ensure you receive your workers’ compensation benefits. This is particularly critical if you’ve incurred significant medical bills that require immediate attention. 

Before diving into the process, it’s essential to understand the foundational principles of workers’ compensation in Utah. This system is designed to protect employees, ensuring they receive medical treatment and wage replacement when they are injured on the job. It’s a no-fault system, meaning that employees can receive benefits regardless of who was at fault for the injury.

2. Consult a Dog Bite Lawyer

The intricacies of dog bite laws and workers’ comp in Utah can be quite overwhelming. It’s highly advisable to consult a dog bite lawyer for an initial case evaluation and to seek legal advice on how to proceed. This is where a free consultation can be invaluable. 

3. Engage with the Insurance Company

When it comes to workplace injuries, including dog bites, insurance companies are often central players in the aftermath. Their involvement can range from assessing the damage and validity of your claim to negotiating compensation and covering medical expenses. 

It’s essential to report the injury to the relevant insurance company as soon as possible, ensuring they have an accurate and timely account of the incident. Delaying this can complicate the claims process or even jeopardize your chance of receiving compensation.

The Complexities of Legal Recourse

The aftermath of a dog bite incident is not just physical and emotional – it is often tangled in legal intricacies. Understanding these complexities is crucial for victims seeking justice and compensation. Let’s take a look at some of these nuances:

One Bite Rule vs. Strict Liability 

Dog bite liability laws differ from state to state, shifting between the traditional “one bite rule” and the more modern approach of “strict liability.” These legal frameworks determine how victims of dog bites can seek redress and under what conditions a dog owner may be held liable for their pet’s actions.

The One Bite Rule

The “one bite rule” essentially grants a dog one “free” bite before the owner can be held liable for injuries caused by their dog. Under this rule, a dog owner is typically only liable if they were aware or should have been aware of their dog’s aggressive tendencies. Essentially, if a dog had never bitten anyone or shown aggressive behavior before, the owner might not be held responsible for the dog’s unexpected actions.

Strict Liability in Utah

Utah doesn’t strictly adhere to the one bite rule. Instead, Utah leans towards a stricter liability approach. In Utah, dog owners can be held liable for injuries their dog causes, even if the dog had never bitten someone or shown aggressive tendencies in the past. The mere act of a bite or injury can suffice for the owner to be held responsible, eliminating the need for prior knowledge or warning of the dog’s aggressive behavior.

This strict liability approach is particularly relevant for professionals who need to enter private properties as part of their job, such as delivery drivers, mail carriers, or plumbers. In these scenarios, if they’re bitten, the dog owner may be liable for their injuries, irrespective of whether the dog had shown previous signs of aggression.

Beyond Workers’ Comp: The Personal Injury Claim

Dog bites can be traumatic events leading to severe physical injuries, psychological trauma, and financial challenges. While workers’ compensation can offer some relief for those injured while on the job, it often falls short of addressing the full scope of damages resulting from a dog bite. As a result, victims may need to consider pursuing a personal injury claim to seek comprehensive compensation.

Why Consider a Personal Injury Claim?

  • Comprehensive Damage Coverage:
    • Pain and Suffering: A dog bite can leave a lasting impact, causing considerable pain and discomfort. This pain can last for days, months, or even years. A personal injury claim takes into consideration not just the immediate pain, but the chronic pain that might follow.
    • Emotional Distress: Beyond the physical trauma, a dog bite can lead to significant emotional and psychological stress. Victims may develop a fear of dogs, suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or experience anxiety and depression. Workers’ compensation might not consider these emotional and psychological tolls.
    • Long-term Physical Complications: Some dog bite injuries can lead to long-term health complications. This could range from permanent scarring and disfigurement to nerve damage or infections that require prolonged medical attention.
  • Potential for Larger Financial Settlement: 
    • While workers’ compensation might offer an immediate and structured relief, it’s often limited in scope and might not reflect the true costs of recovery. A personal injury claim can potentially yield a much larger financial settlement, taking into account current and future medical bills, therapy costs, and lost potential earnings.
    • Additionally, if the dog owner was particularly negligent, victims might be entitled to punitive damages. These are designed to punish the defendant and deter similar negligent behavior in the future.
  • Holding the Negligent Party Accountable:
    • Workers’ compensation doesn’t address the accountability of the dog owner or the person responsible for the dog at the time of the attack. A personal injury lawsuit can help in holding the negligent party responsible for their actions or inaction, promoting better adherence to safety standards and responsible pet ownership.

The Road to Recovery

At Parker & McConkie, we understand that sustaining a dog bite injury is a deeply traumatic experience, impacting victims far beyond the immediate physical wounds. Over the years, representing countless clients in such scenarios, we’ve observed that the aftermath of a dog bite transcends skin-deep injuries. True recovery encompasses both the physical and psychological dimensions.

If you’ve been injured due to a dog bite, you might be eligible for compensation covering:

  • Medical expenses
  • Cosmetic treatment of scars
  • Humiliation caused by scars
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost income and benefits
  • Lost income opportunity
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Psychological treatment
  • Emotional trauma

At Parker & McConkie, we understand the complexities of recovering from a dog bite. Our commitment is to ensure that every aspect of your recovery is recognized and that you’re adequately compensated for both your physical and psychological injuries.

Contact Parker & McConkie for a Comprehensive Case Evaluation

If you’ve suffered a dog bite injury at work in Utah and are grappling with medical bills, negotiations with insurance companies, and potential legal battles with property owners, contact Parker & McConkie today for a free consultation. Our experienced team of personal injury lawyers is committed to guiding you every step of the way to ensure you receive the full compensation you deserve.

At Parker & McConkie, we’re more than just a law firm; we’re your partners in navigating this complex process. Trust us to offer you the best legal advice and representation tailored to your unique circumstances.

How Can We Help You?

Schedule a Free Consultation Now By Contacting Our Team at (801) 980-9708