You might not think of a dog bite occurring in your line of work. In fact, in many businesses, they’re virtually unheard of. Even in public spaces, such as retail stores, restaurants and similar businesses, only allow pets inside in vary rare circumstances (usually only if they are well-trained service animals).
Still, some businesses do allow pets inside, and others are animal-oriented companies anyway. In these cases, pet bites can occur, even from the most seemingly docile of animals. And not only that, but businesses that dispatch service providers to private properties might also inadvertently put their employees in harm’s way, in the face of a spooked animal. The good news, however, is that workers’ compensation insurance can cover dog bites (under the right circumstances, that is.).
It’s imperative to work with your workers’ compensation insurer to determine that you have the right coverage, regardless of what the risk of dog bites are in your operation. They are only one of numerous occupational hazards that might threaten your employees, and it’s imperative that you be ready to face up to any problem should it ever occur.
Workers Compensation Benefits for Dog Bites
Workers’ compensation insurance is especially important for employees of pet stores, pet salons, dog daycares and kennels. Bites in these industries are not only likely, but common. Dog bites can range from small scratches to dismemberment or even death, which could easily be devastating to any impacted employee.
As a result, it’s important to understand what is covered by workers’ compensation benefits, and what is not. Here are the basics.
Workers' compensation can help pay for the initial medical fees following a dog bite as well as disability benefits, should the bite render the employee temporarily or permanently disabled. However, there might be a few conditions you have to meet before an injured party can get their plan approved.
If you are bitten and file a workers compensation claim, you will need to seek medical attention from one of the medical providers listed on your employer’s workers compensation policy. This will ensure that you verify your claim to the insurer, so that they can prove that you are not attempting to commit insurance fraud. Most employers’ policies have regulations on where employees must seek medical attention. This information should be made available to you at the time you begin your filing.
Workers’ compensation can also cover lost income and provide disability support if you are unable to work after a dog bite. The amount of compensation an employee receives depends on the severity of the injury, the employer’s policy and the employee’s income. Workers’ compensation will offer a portion of the employee’s income in income replacement compensation. However, the employee will periodically have to follow up with a medical provider and the workers’ compensation insurance provider in order to continue to remain eligible for coverage.
Exceptions to Dog Bites
There are some instances where a workers compensation claim regarding a dog bite may be denied. This includes dog bites that occur:
- Away from work
- While the employee is off the clock
- While the employee is under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- While the employee is committing a criminal act
- As a result of employee negligence or horseplay
Preventing Dog Bites
All businesses that allow pets inside should practice pet safety. Employees should be trained on how to safely greet a pet and break up fights between pets, as well as how to deescalate situations concerning animals. Employees should not horseplay with animals at work.
Safely greet pets by first asking permission from the pet owner. Then offer the pet a closed fist to sniff. Never reach over the head of a pet or loom over a pet. Employees should never pick up or pet an animal without the owner’s expressed permission. This makes certain that everyone remains safe, from animal, to employee, to owner and anyone in the surrounding area.
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