Compensation for postman injured at work

A postman who was savagely attacked by a dog during his rounds has been awarded £4,750 in workers compensation for his injuries.

Postman, Simon Healey, was bitten so severely by a dog during his round that he fears he may never be able to have children. Mr Healey was working his normal route in Cleckheaton when Toby, a Springer Spaniel, bolted out of the front door of its owner’s home and sank its teeth into Mr Healey’s groin. The dog then proceeded to shake its head for about ten seconds before releasing its grip.

After the attack in October 1998, Mr Healey, aged 35, managed to get himself back to his sorting office, before being taken to hospital where he was admitted for two days. He was also required to stay off work for four weeks. Leeds County Court ruled that he should be awarded damages from the owner of the dog, Beverley Watkins.

Tony Rupa of the Communication Workers Union said: “In the past we have had to contend with judges who were mostly unsympathetic. A dog owner would say this was the first time the animal had attacked, and we would lose the case because we could not prove the dog had a known propensity to attack.”

He went on to add that: “This judgement is important because although this was the first known attack, the court still found in our favour. Attacks on postmen have traditionally been a source of amusement, but the reality is very different. Some postmen end up with horrific injuries, as in this case, and can be severely traumatised.” He also urged all dog owners to make sure they are fully insured in case their dog attacks anyone.

In December 1998, Dewsbury magistrates made an order requiring Ms Watkins, of Mount Street, Cleckheaton, to keep the dog under control following the incident. She was also ordered to pay just £50 prosecution costs but no compensation for Mr Healey. It was after this that the CWU pursued the case for Mr Healy through the County Court. Her solicitor Trevor Cooper stressed that the incident was a one off and assured it could not happen again as a gate and postbox had been fitted to Ms Watkins home.

Mr Healey of Arnold Street, Liversedge, said he had been left mentally and physically scarred after the attack, after 14 years was a postman. He said: “How I got back to the office I don’t know. I’ve had odd little nips at the back of my ankles before but those were nothing compared to what it was. It’s the worst place possible that a bloke can get bitten. Even when I went back to work I was in a lot of discomfort and had to wear a cricket box from October to about February time. I’ve also been left with a massive scar. I feel a lot better in myself although I still felling very wary of dogs in general now. I’m just very pleased about the judgement. It’s a load off my mind.”

It is estimated that over 5,000 postal workers are attacked or bitten by dogs whilst they are at work. John Tracey, assistant branch secretary of the Bradford and District CWU said: We do take every claim up but usually the thing which is frustrating is the inability of people to pay up no matter what judgement is passed down. If somebody is insured things do go through quite quickly so we are urging dog owners or anyone with a pet which could potentially cause an injury to get properly insured.”

Mr Healey’s solicitor David Harrington confirmed Mr Healey would be paid £4,750 in compensation for his injuries and would also recover damages for loss of earnings and a contribution toward his legal costs.

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