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Vol. 9 - Issue 5
July 16, 2020


A Dog’s Door Dash: When The Delivery Driver Comes Calling

Occupational Hazard For Those Who Bring Those Packages To Your Home   


At the height of the great home quarantine of 2020 my front porch doubled as a loading dock. The supermarket, local restaurants, UPS and Amazon sent drivers who pulled up and dropped off their cargo. Even with so-called “no contact delivery,” I know when they have arrived. My enthusiastic canine sentries alerted me.

Despite their ferocious sounds, Barney and Gracie are harmless. But those in the delivery business are not always so lucky. Dog bites have long been an occupational hazard. The injuries can be severe.

Sam Iringan, a driver for a food delivery service, GrubHub, was bitten by a dog while dropping off an order.  The customer had given explicit instructions that the driver was to call and honk upon arrival. Mr. Iringan instead entered the property through a closed gate. This made him a trespasser in the eyes of the law. A Colorado federal court in Iringan v. Nickens (2019) dismissed his case. 

A judge denied recovery to Zola Mae Heritage, a deliverywoman, who was bitten by a dog while bringing milk to the residence of Ina Mae Gregg.  But the Tennessee appeals court in Heritage v. Gregg (1984) ordered a new trial to determine if Ms. Greg knew that her dog had vicious or mischievous propensities. The pooch had previously bitten the mailman. 

Genevia Bushnell was bitten by three dogs while delivering health and wellness products to the home of a customer. The Supreme Court of Texas ruled in Bushnell v. Mott (2008) that, even if the owner did not know that her dogs had dangerous propensities, Ms. Bushnell could still have her day in court. The high court determined that the owner could be liable for failing to break-up the attack.

Clarence Rice was knocked over by a dog and seriously injured while delivering gas to a mobile home. A jury found the dog owner’s mother liable and awarded damages.  The Supreme Court of Alabama reversed the award, concluding in Humphries v. Rice (1992) that the woman could not be liable as she was neither the keeper nor caregiver of her son’s dog.

Emil Eberling, a 16-year-old newsboy, was bitten by a dog while delivering a paper to a house on his route. A jury awarded him $400. New Jersey’s highest court upheld the award in Eberling v. Mutillod (1917), concluding that young Emil had done nothing to excite the dog, so, therefore, he was not contributorily negligent. 

Dog bites are surely an occupational hazard for delivery drivers.  Sometimes the wounded driver responds with another delivery – a lawsuit.

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