What Happens if You’re Injured by Someone Working for the Postal Service?
The employees and contractors of the United States Postal Service, or USPS, deliver 48% of the world’s mail. In 2019, that involved traveling 1.34 billion miles. Whether it’s in 18-wheelers, delivery trucks, or the individually-owned vehicles of many rural carriers, they’re all over the nation’s roads.
What happens when you’re in an accident with someone working for USPS? What if you’re injured? There is a process for seeking compensation, but it’s very different from a typical collision or injury claim. Here’s what you should know about a Postal truck lawsuit.
Can I Sue USPS for My Accident or Injury?
Yes – but there is a specific process to do so. The Postal Service is part of the federal government, so bringing a lawsuit against them isn’t the same as suing a private individual or company (such as FedEx, DHL, or UPS). There are a variety of factors that can come into play, but the most important thing to know is that any lawsuit against the U.S. Postal Service happens based on a law called the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). More on that later.
There are other questions whose answers will affect your case. Was the person who injured you an employee of USPS or a contractor? Were they in a vehicle owned by Postal Service, or was it their own vehicle, and what were they doing when the collision happened? These kinds of claims can be very complex, so we recommend consulting an attorney with experience dealing with USPS truck lawsuits.
What Is the Federal Tort Claims Act and How Does It Affect My USPS Mail Truck Accident?
The FTCA is a complex law that allows specific types of lawsuits against federal government entities and employees who were acting within their scope of employment when they caused the injury. There are some very strict rules and guidelines that must be followed to successfully bring a suit.
The FTCA also bars certain types of claims under a doctrine called “sovereign immunity.” This probably won’t apply to your case, but it illustrates the many, many layers of the law.
How Do I Get Compensation for My Injury From the Postal Service?
The FTCA has a process to follow. The first step through the FTCA is to make a claim. As in many personal injury cases we work, a lawsuit may not be necessary if the sides can come to an agreement. To make a claim, you fill out Standard Form 95 Claim for Damage, Injury, or Death.
It is a fairly straightforward document, though the process that surrounds it is particular and there are a few facts surrounding the form – and buried on it – worth noting.
- The claim must be submitted within two years of the incident.
- USPS has six months to respond to the claim.
- The form must include a sum total of the damages, which can be tricky.
The form requires a sum of your damages, which sounds simple enough. If no sum is offered, the claim will not be considered. However, if your USPS accident just occurred and you’re injured, how do you know what your medical bills will add up to? How do you know how much work you’ll miss or what lost wages may amount to?
This is something that an experienced personal injury attorney can assist you with. We can help you determine a fair and accurate total for the harms and losses you’ve suffered.
If USPS refuses your claim, you can then file suit under the FTCA. If you have not hired an attorney by that time, we absolutely recommend it. Any lawsuit you file would be filed in federal court, so you would need an attorney who is admitted to try cases before federal courts, which have slightly different rules than state courts.
Injuries Involving USPS Employees vs USPS Contractors
USPS employs nearly 500,000 employees represented by seven unions. There were also more than 136,000 non-career employees in 2019. The rules are different if you’re injured by a contractor versus an employee of USPS.
Furthermore, it can depend on who owns the vehicle – a private contracting firm or person, or USPS. In September, 2020, the Postal Service used the FTCA to successfully dodge a lawsuit filed against it for injuries caused by a contractor in Puerto Rico.
This is yet another complexity of dealing with an injury caused by someone working for USPS. It’s not impossible to seek compensation, but knowing what to do, how much to claim, and who to pursue for compensation is a task for an experienced attorney.
Does Who Owns the Vehicle That Injured Me Matter?
It might. That’s one of the many variables that come into play when you’re seeking compensation from the government, and the rules can vary. Who owns the vehicle and who’s driving it all come into play. Sometimes, it’s easy to tell who owns the vehicle. Sometimes it isn’t.
We’ve all seen the trademark delivery vehicles of USPS plying neighborhood streets. They’re specially designed to deliver mail to the street-side boxes we all know. The driver sits on the right side, unlike most other vehicles in the US. But USPS operates many, many other vehicles including larger delivery vans and 18-wheelers to haul the mail. They’re not always so easily identified.
Moreover, many rural postal carriers use their own private vehicles to deliver mail. These vehicles may not be adequately marked, and many of these rural postal carriers have to drive on the wrong side of the road to make deliveries. Their vehicles are not designed or adapted for delivering mail — the driver’s side is on the left side, toward the middle of the road. (Some actually sit in the passenger’s seat and operate the vehicle from there.)
Regardless of what they’re driving, USPS drivers are like any other individual on the road. They can be negligent and cause injury to others if they are not careful.
Contact the Personal Injury Attorneys of the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin Today
If you or someone you know was injured in a collision with a USPS mail truck or employee, please contact us here or call us at 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation. You have the right to pursue compensation for your injuries, but the rules for making a claim and following through on your case are complicated. Our experienced, professional attorneys are here to assist you.