/Postal worker sues Royal Mail after her fingers were bitten off by a dog

Postal worker sues Royal Mail after her fingers were bitten off by a dog

A postal worker whose fingers were bitten off by a dog as she put a card through a letterbox is suing Royal Mail for £50,000 compensation.

Clare Offord, 41, had only been in the job for five months when she lost portions from two fingers on her left hand during a route in Romford in 2016.

Mrs Offord, from Essex, had put her hand through the letterbox to deliver a ‘missed parcel’ card when she felt the dog bite.

The mother was rushed to hospital, but despite surgery was left without large parts of her ring and middle fingers.

Mrs Offord is now suing her employer, claiming Royal Mail did not do enough to make sure she was safe on the route, which was not her normal round.

But Royal Mail lawyers deny liability for her injuries at Central London County Court and dispute the £50,000 damages she is claiming.

‘The claimant has lost the larger part of two fingers on her left hand,’ her barrister, Ben Rodgers, told the court.

‘Her fingers are not going to grow back.’

Clare Offord, 41, had only been in the job for five months when she lost portions from two fingers on her left hand during a route in Romford in 2016

Clare Offord, 41, had only been in the job for five months when she lost portions from two fingers on her left hand during a route in Romford in 2016

Clare Offord, 41, had only been in the job for five months when she lost portions from two fingers on her left hand during a route in Romford in 2016

The mother was rushed to hospital, but despite surgery was left without large parts of her ring and middle fingers

The mother was rushed to hospital, but despite surgery was left without large parts of her ring and middle fingers

The mother was rushed to hospital, but despite surgery was left without large parts of her ring and middle fingers

According to claim documents, Mrs Offord was a part-time relief postal worker in February 2016 when she was asked to cover for a colleague.

The colleague had noted the presence of the dog, on a route in the Lowshoe Lane area of the town, her lawyers claim.

The dog had been ‘aggressive,’ biting and pulling post through the letterbox, but this was not recorded on the route log, the document says.

Her lawyers state: ‘She was delivering a parcel. She rang the doorbell. The occupier did not answer the door.

‘The claimant, as she had been trained to, filled out a form P739 – ”Something for you”.’

‘She pushed the form through the letterbox. As she did so, the dog bit her, causing serious injury to her fingers.’

According to claim documents, Mrs Offord was a part-time relief postal worker in February 2016 when she was asked to cover for a colleague

According to claim documents, Mrs Offord was a part-time relief postal worker in February 2016 when she was asked to cover for a colleague

According to claim documents, Mrs Offord was a part-time relief postal worker in February 2016 when she was asked to cover for a colleague

Mrs Offord’s legal team say she had been told never to leave an item hanging out of a letterbox, due to the risk of theft.

But she had not been given a posting peg, a plastic device used for posting mail without workers having to put their fingers through the letterbox.

The presence of the dog was also not noted on the ‘walk log’ and so she had no idea of the risk she was taking, it is claimed.

The case was in court for a short preliminary hearing ahead of a full trial of the claim at a later date.

Mr Rodgers told Judge Caroline Wilkinson that the owner of the dog was convicted of a Dangerous Dogs Act offence.

According to a local newspaper report the dog’s owner pleaded guilty to being the owner of a dog dangerously out of control causing injury in May 2016 at Barkingside Magistrates Court.

The owner was reportedly ordered to pay fines, compensation and costs totalling £8,793 from which Ms Offord received a compensation order for £2,764.

Mrs Offord's legal team say she had been told never to leave an item hanging out of a letterbox, due to the risk of theft

Mrs Offord's legal team say she had been told never to leave an item hanging out of a letterbox, due to the risk of theft

Mrs Offord’s legal team say she had been told never to leave an item hanging out of a letterbox, due to the risk of theft

Additionally the dog was hit with a ‘contingent’ (or suspended) destruction order, meaning that any further offences would result in the dog being put down.

However, Mrs Offord had decided to sue Royal Mail and not the dog owner because of alleged ‘wider issues’ within the sorting office, Mr Rodgers said.

The ‘walk log’ for that particular route had not been updated since 2011 and did not record the presence of the dog, he added.

He also claimed managers at the Romford sorting office had failed to take ‘reasonable care for the safety of their post persons.’

As well as the cosmetic effect of losing her fingers, Mrs Offord has been left suffering with ‘cold intolerance,’ which may impact on her employment with Royal Mail, he continued.

The court heard Royal Mail is defending the case, denying liability for Mrs Offord’s injuries and contesting the size of her claim.

Lisa Fountain, from Mrs Offord’s solicitors Slater and Gordon Lawyers, said: ‘My client had been in the job for less than six months at the time of this attack, which has caused serious and permanent disfigurement.

‘Several thousand people are attacked by dogs each year including many postal workers so this should have been a known risk for Royal Mail.’

According to Royal Mail, 47 postmen and women are attacked by dogs in the UK every week.

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