Workers’ Compensation for Animal Bites or Attacks

News reports out of Richmond are that a Virginia woman had to be taken to a local hospital after she was bitten by a snake while at work. The 29-year-old said she was on her break and preparing to go outside when she felt a shooting pain and something wet on her foot. She glanced down, and realized she’d been bitten by a baby copperhead. snake

She was rushed to a hospital, where she spent three days recovering after being given several doses of the anti-venom. She is now undergoing physical therapy to fully recover.

However, she’s been delivered a second sting: Her workers’ compensation claim has been denied. Company representatives are consulting with their legal department to obtain more clarification on the denial, but it seems to have something to do with the fact that the bite occurred while the woman was on break. 

Work injuries are compensable when they occur in the course and scope of employment. Injuries that occur on breaks are generally considered outside the scope of employment, but there are may be some limited circumstances where the employer continues to exercise authority over the employees. If an employer directs where an employee must go for break, for example, then they might still be deemed as having control.

What’s important to understand is that workers’ compensation does not cover every single accident that occurs at work. An experienced Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyer can help you ascertain whether you may have a viable case.

As far as animal attacks at work, it truly depends on what the worker was doing at the time of the incident. Some of the more common types of work-related animal attacks are:

  • Insect stings;
  • Animal bites;
  • Pet attacks.

If the animal in question is owned by a third-party, it may be possible to pursue third-party litigation against the owner.

For example, in North Carolina, NCGS Section 67 allows a dog owner may be liable for injuries caused by the dog if the animal was deemed dangerous per state law AND if the dog caused injury. While a third-party lawsuit may allow for collection of compensation for pain and suffering. However, if a worker already obtained workers’ compensation benefits, he or she may have to reimburse the workers’ compensation insurer for those expenses if they a third party is later ordered to pay them.

Some workers are more susceptible to insect and animal bites than others. Those include:

  • Veterinarians and vet assistants;
  • Home health care workers;
  • Animal trainers;
  • Groomers;
  • Deliver workers;
  • Animal control workers;
  • Construction workers (insect nests or dens of wild animals);
  • School teachers (particularly those that have animals in classrooms);
  • Zoo and nature center workers’
  • Landscapers.

Injuries that result from animal attacks, bites or stings can include rabies, head trauma, neural damage, disfigurement, scarring, cat scratch fever, large wounds and infection, dangerous/ fatal reaction to insect/ spider/ snake bites.

Workers’ compensation should be explored in these instances because it can cover:

  • Medical expenses;
  • Lost wages/ disability payments;
  • Vocational training (if your injuries render you unable to do the job you had previously).

If you have been injured by an animal at work, we can help.

If you have been injured at work, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:

Chesterfield woman fights for workers comp after snake bite at work, July 16, 2016, by Susan Bahorich, NBC-12

More Blog Entries:

North Carolina Excavator Accident Causes Serious Work Injury, July 12, 2016, Charlotte Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog

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