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What Happens If a Mail Truck Gets in an Accident?

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If you were involved in a USPS mail truck accident, the first thing you should do is take care of immediate emergency care issues, such as moving to a safe place and getting help from a medical professional. You should also report the accident to the local law enforcement agency. 

USPS drivers should follow several steps when involved in an accident. These include submitting an incident report where you’ll describe everything that happened. You have to include the date, time, and cause of the USPS mail truck accident.

The USPS will get a copy of the police report, which you should also obtain through a personal injury attorney. Your attorney can review the report and determine your next steps. These usually involve filling out damage, injury, or death claim with the USPS and filling out several forms which detail what happened and the compensation you are asking for. 

Federal Tort Claims Act

The USPS is a federal government agency, and the mail truck driver is a federal employee. All claims involving the government are regulated by federal laws. Filing an accident claim is a complicated process, but filing a claim involving a United States Postal Service (USPS) mail truck is even more complex. These claims are handled differently than a regular car accident and require knowledge of federal court law.

Schmidt & Clark lawyers have filed countless mail truck accident claims in the last two decades. Our lawyers are familiar with federal law regarding USPS trucks and can help you get damages after a USPS accident. Today, we’ll explain what happens if a mail truck gets in an accident, what are common accident causes, and what you should do in this situation.

Summary of the Key Findings

  • USPS trucks are a government entity, and the drivers are federal agency employees.
  • Seeking compensation after a USPS accident is different from personal injury claims.
  • You should hire legal representation to help you file the claim and get fair damages.

Causes of a Mail Truck Accident

A blown out tire on the road

United States Postal Service trucks caused 29,000 accidents in 2019, almost half of which involved new drivers [1]. USPS data says the biggest number of accidents happen in December. This is due to the winter weather, newly hired drivers, and increased workload during the holiday season.

Apart from inexperienced drivers, these are the biggest causes of USPS truck accidents:

  • Distracted driving — Many mail truck accidents happen while driving in a straight line, which means the drivers were distracted. In 2019, distracted driving was the cause of 3000 fatalities [2]. While this isn’t only the USPS truck issue, USPS accidents contribute to the overall number. Postal service drivers are distracted because they look for addresses, monitor the GPS, and more.
  • Weather — US post promises you’ll get your parcel no matter the weather. This means drivers try hard to get to their destination, which is likely to cause accidents in bad weather. 
  • Irregular stops and slow speeds — Mail trucks often drive below the speed limit and have to make frequent stops on their route. This often happens on roads where other vehicles are going 55 mph. A lot of these roads don’t have shoulders for mail truck drivers to stop, so they have to block the road, which can lead to accidents.
  • Improperly loaded cargo — If the loader or the driver doesn't properly secure the cargo, it can fall out of the truck and cause a truck and car accident.
  • Wrong side off the road driving — A mail truck driver can attempt to save time by driving on the wrong side of the road. This most commonly happens on rural and suburban roads. However, the driver can’t know where another car will come from, so this also causes accidents.
  • Wrong side of the vehicle driving — This also usually happens in rural areas. Some postal carriers aren’t given an official truck with pedals and wheels on the truck’s right side. Instead, they have to use an older model or a personal vehicle, so drivers drive from the passenger rather than the driver’s seat. They can’t easily hit the gas and brake, which slows their reaction time.

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Filing a Claim with the USPS

A person writing things on a paper

USPS is a federal government agency, so you need to follow a special legal procedure to file an accident claim under the Tort Claims Act (FTCA), which makes filing a claim complicated [3].

In a regular accident, you file a claim against the other person’s insurance company. But, in an accident involving the federal government, you’re filing a claim against the US government. The government doesn’t have insurance because they’re self-insured for losses.

“Under the FTCA, the federal government acts as a self-insurer and recognizes the liability for the negligent or wrongful acts or omissions of its employees acting within the scope of their official duties. The United States is liable to the same extent an individual would be in like circumstances.” United States House of Representatives, FTCA

To file a claim against USPS according to FTCA, you have to:

  • Complete form 95 — Available online [4].
  • Identify injuries you sustained — Including physical injuries, property damage, and lost work. 
  • State the factual basis of the claim — Explain why the USPS driver was at fault.
  • List the witnesses — If there were any witnesses of vehicle accidents, you should give their full names and contact info.
  • Insurance — Give your insurance information.
  • Ask for damages — Make a settlement demand on the claim. An attorney can help you determine how much to ask for. If you don’t list a sum, your claim will be rejected.
  • Submit the claim — USPS states that the claim can be submitted at any postal facility [5].

The FTCA says that you are only eligible to bring a claim against the government if you can prove you’ve been injured by the negligence of a federal government employee who was working on their government job at the time of mail truck accidents. 

Statute of Limitations

Two businessmen talking to eachotherThere’s a statute of limitations on mail truck accidents. This means there’s a certain amount of time in which you have to file a claim. Your claim won’t be valid if you don’t file in this time window.

The statute of limitations for an accident with a USPS truck is two years. You should try to file a claim as soon as possible to minimize the risk of time running out, which is why you should contact a law firm after the accident. A law firm can help you collect police reports, witness statements, medical bills, and more.

Once you file the claim and USPS receives it, they have to respond in six months. The government will review your claim and send a response. In case they reject your claim, you can file a lawsuit in six months. 

Filing a Lawsuit

Most FTCA claims are resolved on an administrative level. However, if the government rejects your settlement claim, you can file a personal injury lawsuit in federal court six months after receiving the USPS reply.

You can only file the lawsuit if you’ve exhausted administrative options. Also, if you don’t file within six months after receiving a reply, you lose the right to sue.

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Damages You Can Get After an Accident Involving US Postal Service

A person going through stacks of paperworkForm 95 has a sum section that you must fill out. This section is for the number of damages you seek.

The best way to establish how much money to ask for is to consult a lawyer. A lawyer can help you maximize and collect compensation after an accident with a mail truck.

You should get compensation for these expenses in a mail truck personal injury claim:

Your injury claim settlement can go from thousands to millions of dollars depending on these factors.

FAQ

Do postal trucks have cameras?

No, postal trucks don’t have cameras. However, the USPS plans to change this in their new trucks starting from 2023. 

What truck does USPS use for delivery? 

USPS uses Grumman LLV for delivery.

Hire an Experienced Lawyer if You’ve Been in a USPS Accident

Vehicle accidents involving USPS trucks are different from regular car accidents. USPS truck is a government vehicle that can deliver mail to you. Their drivers have to follow local traffic laws, but accidents still frequently happen.

If you’ve been in an accident with a USPS truck, you need a law firm with a skilled attorney. Schmidt & Clark lawyers are familiar with federal laws. We value each attorney-client relationship. Our lawyers have filed countless personal injury cases against the government and helped our clients get settlements.

Contact us today for a free consultation.


References:

1.https://about.usps.com/postal-bulletin/2019/pb22534/html/cover.htm#

2.https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/distracted-driving 

3.https://www.house.gov/doing-business-with-the-house/leases/federal-tort-claims-act 

4.https://www.aoc.gov/sites/default/files/tortformsf95.pdf 

5.https://about.usps.com/postal-bulletin/2005/html/pb22170/a-c4_002.html 

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