Delivery drivers and dog attacks
The rise in prosecutions for dog attacks has been welcomed by postal workers but the impact dog attacks have on those engaged in the industry remains immense.
Over 4,000 dog attacks in the UK are reported each year. Yet, while we hear about the most serious incidents, such as the tragic death of Reggie Young, many more attacks never even get included in the official statistics.
Dog attacks pose a particular problem for postal workers. The Communications Workers Union (CWU) and Royal Mail have an annual Dog Awareness Week, aimed at raising awareness of the issue and encouraging responsible dog ownership.
The CWU have also lobbied hard for legislative changes, pointing to the fact that 8 of their members are being bitten by dogs every day while delivering mail.
In May 2014 the Government made changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act. This allowed criminal prosecutions to be brought if a dog attack took place on private property (the law was previously restricted to public areas). It also introduced heavier sentences. Because postal deliveries mainly take place on private property very few prosecutions had been bought under the old law.
On the face of it the new law has been a success. Latest figures (June 2015) show a 62% rise in the number of court cases involving attacks by dogs over the past year and a 10% fall in attacks on postal workers. But the truth might not be quite that simple.
The fall in the number of dog attacks on postal workers only relates to Royal Mail employees. However, nowadays our mail doesn’t just get delivered by the postman or postwoman. A vast amount of our deliveries come from the growing army of private delivery workers through organisations such as Hermes, Yodel or DPD.
In our experience at the sharp end of dog attack litigation we have experienced an increase in the number of enquiries from these private delivery drivers. This causes us to speculate about how many dog attacks have simply been transferred from the conventional postal service onto this new delivery workforce.
The situation for these workers is made worse by the fact that unlike postal workers private delivery drivers operate on a self-employed basis. This means that if they don’t work they don’t get paid. A dog bite which stops them from driving can mean no income for several weeks; and if that wasn’t bad enough some of their contracts require them to pay for their own cover while they recover.
One particular delivery driver who recently consulted us was charged £150 per day to cover his deliveries while he was recovering from a dog attack. He persuaded a friend to help out but he still had to pay him £75 per day. The dog owner has acknowledged the attack but has no insurance cover, no assets and is totally dependent on state benefits. The delivery driver is therefore unable to pursue a dog bite claim and has been left considerably out of pocket.
Dealing with dog bite claims on a daily basis leads us to conclude that the key change that is needed is to make insurance compulsory for all dog owners. Dog owners need to face the fact that their pet can cause serious physical and financial harm and they have a duty and obligation to ensure that innocent victims are not left without any redress.
Until this fundamental change to the law is made, delivery drivers will continue to suffer.
For a free, no obligation chat about a dog attack call James on Freephone 0333 888 0408 or email him at email@example.com
Alternatively, check out our specialist dog bite claim website at www.dogbitesolicitors.co.uk