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Dog attacks not a thing of the past for postal carriers

In the news business, "Dog bites man" isn't considered a catchy headline. If it reads, "Man bites dog" – now you've got something. We doubt anyone in Texas, Georgia or anywhere else in the country has seen such a headline and we doubt you ever will. But there are plenty of sad instances in which human beings suffer devastating injuries due to vicious dog attacks. Among those victims are carriers of the U.S. Postal Service.

According to a recent report by the USPS, workers suffered more than 6, 500 dog attacks in 2016. Houston proved to be the No. 1 city in the country for such attacks on postal workers. Dallas tied with Chicago in third place in a ranking of 51 cities.

When USPS and other federal workers are sidelined from their jobs because of dog attacks, the law that is supposed to provide them with workers' compensation benefits is the Federal Employees Compensation Act. And the nature of the compensation they are supposed to be eligible for includes the costs they incur for medical care, wages lost due to missed work or disability and any costs that might be required if the worker needs vocational rehabilitation.

Dog bites have become so much a part of the lore of the postal carrier's job that they have almost become a cliché. How many times has TV used the dog-mailman scenario to elicit a laugh? But such attacks are not to be taken lightly. Victims have been known to have their faces ravaged, arms and legs ripped open, or even torn off. There's also the threat of infection from the bite or the surgical repairing of the damaged skin.

In addition to having to bear up through the rigors of recovery after a dog attack, there is the potential of administrative red tape surrounding a claim to the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs. Denials of claims are not unheard of and that means having to endure the appeals process.

If you've been injured in the course of your work for the federal government, you need to be sure you understand your rights to benefits. Navigating what can be a complicated and confusing process is something you don't have to do alone. Having an attorney experienced with the OWCP can be a big help.

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