USPS Mail Truck Collision Lawsuits and the FTCA
Delivering 47% of the world’s mail through its half a million employees, the USPS is one of the largest employers in the U.S. Processing and delivering about 484.8 million mail pieces each day necessarily involves 18-wheelers, delivery trucks, and individual vehicles.
Moreover, many rural postal carriers use their own vehicles to deliver mail. These vehicles are often not adequately marked and therefore could pose as a serious danger to others, considering many postal carriers have to drive on the wrong side of the road to make deliveries. The fact is that they are often not adapted for delivering mail — the driver’s side is on the left side, toward the middle of the road. In comparison, USPS vehicles have the driver’s side on the right side to make deliveries easier and more efficient for the driver. Like any other individual on the road, USPS drivers can be negligent and cause injury to others if they are not careful.
Every year, the United States Postal Service (USPS) pays out millions of dollars in claims to compensate people injured by its employees and vehicles. The difference is that the USPS is a federal government agency, which means that if you were injured by a USPS driver, pursuing a potential lawsuit against them is going to be different than how you would if you were injured by another vehicle.
We break down the most important differences you should know about below:
USPS vs. FedEx, UPS, and DHL
Are you familiar with the brands FedEx Corp. (FedEx), United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS), and Dalsey, Hillblom, and Lynn (DHL)? These are just three of some of the most recognized examples of mail/package delivery services that compete against USPS. FedEx, UPS, and DHL are private companies, which means that if you are hurt by one of their vehicles, you would sue the company itself, so you would likely deal with their lawyers and insurance companies.
USPS, in comparison, is a federal agency, which means that you would be suing the United States for their employee’s negligence. It also means that federal law, not state law, applies to your claim.
Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) vs. North Carolina State Laws
The federal law that applies in claims against USPS is called the Federal Tort Claims Act, or FTCA. The FTCA is a complex law that allows private citizens like you to sue the government, but with very strict limitations.
For one thing, the state law where the accident occurred must permit the claim for the FTCA to apply. In other words, if the USPS mail truck collision happened in North Carolina, then the FTCA only applies to your claim if it is based on, and permitted by, North Carolina laws.
Interestingly enough, North Carolina is one of only five states left in the U.S. still using the rule of contributory negligence. Therefore, we cannot emphasize enough the importance of seeking a North Carolina personal injury law firm that has experience handling federal cases if you’ve been hit by a postal service truck in North Carolina.
For example, if the victim was texting and not paying attention when the USPS delivery vehicle sped up to run a yellow light and rammed into the driver’s side, the victim may be found to be 10% liable for the collision. In this case, even if the USPS driver was 90% at fault, the victim may be barred from recovering.
If you were in an accident that you don’t think was your fault, the rule of contributory negligence is just one reason you should always contact a North Carolina personal injury lawyer after an accident. Call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation.
Note that the FTCA would apply to your potential claim if the driver who caused you harm was an employee of the USPS — and whether they were an employee or not at the time is an important distinction.
USPS Employees vs. USPS Independent Contractors
The FTCA applies to USPS car and truck accidents if the driver who was negligent was a federal employee. In contrast, if the driver was a sub-contractor or independent contractor hired by USPS, then they may be liable under a different set of laws. As with the practice of law, there are nuances requiring an experienced personal injury attorney to help you. For example, proving that the collision occurred during the scope of the employee’s work, proving damages beyond the bills you received for being injured, and determining the proper forum.
Important Facts to Know About FTCA Claims Against USPS
Before you can file a claim under the FTCA, you are required to file an “administrative claim” against the U.S. Postal Service.
- According to the FTCA, you must first bring your claim against the party that injured you. For the USPS, that involves filing Form 95. This gives them time to investigate your claim and possibly negotiate the claims.
- Form 95 involves the injured person putting a “sum certain” amount of the damages they sustained from the collision. This means that you and your attorney need to work together to outline what happened and determine the extent of the damages you sustained from the collision so you can put a specified dollar amount on the form. We encourage you to speak to one of our experienced personal injury attorneys in order to find all the possible ways you could be compensated for your injuries.
- After USPS receives your claim, they have six months to respond. It’s possible that they would rather “admit” to the validity of your claim and give you the amount you specified on Form 95. These happen rarely. If they reject your claim or do not respond within 6 months of investigating, you may proceed to filing a claim under the FTCA.
You must act quickly. The timeframe to file a claim gets narrower the longer you wait.
- There is a “Statute of Limitations” on claims against the USPS. You must file Form 95 within two years from the date the mail truck accident occurred. If too much time has passed, the court may dismiss your case as being untimely.
Contact the NC Personal Injury Attorneys at James Scott Farrin Today
If you or someone you know was injured or died from a collision with a USPS mail truck, please contact us here or call us at 1-866-900-7078. Since our firm opened in 1997, we have recovered over $1 billion for over 43,000 clients, and we haven’t slowed down.* Let our legal team help you get the justice and compensation you deserve.
*Each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.