Workers At Risk For Animal Bites, Scratches, and Stings

Lever & Ecker, PLLC May 23, 2016 General

New York is teaming with animals, both wild and tame. In the wild, the state is rich with various insects, birds, foxes, coyotes, opossums, raccoons, bats, squirrels, skunks, deer, bobcat, and more. At home, nearly 57% of all households contain at least one pet, the most popular being cats and dogs. For many New York workers, these animals create a dangerous working condition which can leave them injured and sick.

The Industries Most At Risk

Every job comes with its own set of risks. Some occupations result in exposure to and interaction with animals on a regular basis, thus increasing the worker’s chances of being bitten, stung, knocked over, scratched, kicked, or otherwise injured. These occupations include:a racoon with possible diseases

  • Home Health Care Workers: Nurses, doctors, and physical therapists who make home visits are frequently hurt by their patient’s pets who often are on high alert due to their owner’s illness.
  • Office Workers: Pet-friendly offices are becoming more popular and many companies advertise this as an office perk. But the stress of a noisy and unfamiliar environment can cause animals that have been brought into the office to react violently.
  • Delivery Workers: When making a delivery, employees are pressured to go right up to the recipient’s door and do everything in their power to make contact. This action, however, frequently places them in the path of dogs who are looking to protect their owner and home.
  • PennDOT workers: When fixing or building a new road, PennDOT workers are often in remote locations where wild animals are abundant. Workers have reported being attacked by groundhogs, coyotes, and even geese.
  • Construction Workers: Wild animals often take up residence in open structures and make a nest. If their homes are disturbed, they may respond out of fear and attack, especially animals who have given birth and are protecting their young. Additionally, if construction is being done on a home, pets who are stressed out or aggressive may react poorly to strangers in their territory and attack.
  • Veterinary Professionals: Despite having been taught proper handling techniques, anyone working in a veterinary profession is at high risk for a bite. Even the nicest of dogs may react out of fear when they are put into an unfamiliar situation.

The Most Common Injuries And Illnesses

rattlesnake with venemous biteWhen most people think of being bitten, scratched, or stung by an animal, they think about the actual wound that is visible on the skin. But it isn’t just the wound that can be dangerous, many animals are capable of transmitting diseases to humans or injecting toxic substances. The most common conditions caused by an animal include:

  • Lyme Disease: This disease is transmitted by via a tick bite and while some people never show symptoms, others are plagued with fever, joint pain, and headaches.
  • Psittacosis: Transmitted by birds, this disease can create flu-like symptoms and left untreated can result in damage to the heart, liver, and nervous system.
  • Rabies: While the majority of pets have been vaccinated against rabies, wild animals are not. Once a patient displays the symptoms of the disease there is no way for doctors to stop its progress and it will be fatal.
  • Venom: Some species of snakes, spiders, and insects have a venomous bite which can make the victim very ill or kill them.
  • Infected Wounds: Even if a wound is cleaned thoroughly, the sharp teeth of an animal can push bacteria deep below the surface. If not immediately treated, an infection can cause nerve damage, muscle damage, and can put the victim in the hospital.

Can I File For Workers Comp?

Yes. If you were injured or became ill due to an animal bite, scratch, or sting that occurred while you were at work, you may be entitled to file for workers’ compensation. This insurance can provide you with compensation for medical expenses and a portion of lost wages.

Is There Another Way To Recover Compensation?cat which has delivered multiple bites

It is possible that a third party may be held responsible for a victim’s injuries if they failed to warn of a potentially dangerous animal on the property or failed to restrain an aggressive pet. A third party lawsuit can provide a victim with medical expenses, full compensation for lost wages, and additional compensation for pain and suffering.

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