Royal Mail knew about the dog, but didn't tell me. What can I do?


Compensation has been awarded to a Cheshire postal worker who was bitten by a dog as he delivered mail.

Dog Bite Compensation Claim

In June 2011 Eric Radcliffe, then 64, was on his regular 'walk' in Fenwick Lane, Runcorn.

As he posted mail through the letterbox of 1 of the houses along his route, a dog, unseen by Mr Radcliffe due to the fact it was on the other side of the front door, bit his hand.

The attack caused the postman to suffer a severe injury to his middle finger, for which he required medical treatment and, over the following months, the care and assistance of his family.

Who was liable?

Although liability appeared to lie with the householder, it transpired that Mr Radcliffe's employer, Royal Mail, had a written record of the dog at this property nearly 2 years before the incident.

"The evidence was in a Royal Mail walk log dated July 2009", explained Simpson Millar LLP's Ruth Magee, who acted for the postman through the Communication Workers Union. "For this reason we deemed it appropriate to contact both the householder and Mr Radcliffe's employer in pursuit of a personal injury claim."

No response from householder

During the following September we wrote letters of claim to both parties. While we received no acknowledgement from the dog's owner, Royal Mail admitted liability for a number of breaches of Health and Safety at Work regulations, the combined effect of which was to expose our client to a foreseeable risk of injury.

"Among the issues cited was the Royal Mail's failure to ensure its employee knew of the hazard by fixing an appropriate warning notice to his office frame", Ruth noted.

"In not suspending mail deliveries to the property until the householders had fitted an external box or cage to their letterbox, Royal Mail also failed to take appropriate steps to minimise risk to our client."

Royal Mail knew of problem

Ruth added that the householder had been unhelpful in not responding to our letter of claim. "However, since Royal Mail knew of the problem with this dog 2 years before the incident but did not share its knowledge with Mr Radcliffe, it must bear some responsibility for our client's unfortunate injury."

Duly awarded compensation of £3,800, Mr Radcliffe praised how he had been advised by Simpson Millar LLP at every stage of his claim and had agreed with our guidance.

Top tips to take home:

  • Are you a postal worker? Make sure your line manager is giving you all your walk information – especially if dangerous dogs are around
  • Take extra care with all the dogs you encounter – they're not always friendly
  • 2013 changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act mean an owner can face prosecution if their dog attacks you on their property – so if this happens, you may be entitled to make a personal injury claim

News Archive

Get In Touch