Accidents involving United States Post Office vehicles occur all the time. But it’s important to understand that accidents involving the USPS are handled differently than a regular vehicle accident and special consideration must be given to its unique process and deadlines in order to successfully recover from the USPS for potential juries and damages.
Below you will find helpful information about accidents involving the post office, the process of filing a claim if you were involved in an accident, and how a personal injury attorney can help.
Who drives United States Postal Service mail trucks?
United States mail trucks are driven by regular people who are employed by the USPS and are on the road just about every day of the week.
To give an idea of their activity, the USPS reports that there are over 75,000 mail carriers that drive all around the United States to deliver mail. According to the USPS Postal Facts, the United States Postal Office processes and delivers over 470 million pieces of mail a day.
How many vehicle accidents with USPS trucks happen each year?
In December 2019, the USPS released a cover story for Motor Vehicle Safety Month. In 2019, there were approximately 29,000 motor vehicle accidents involving a US Post Office vehicle. Of the 29,000, over 13,000 occurred when the USPS motor vehicle was traveling straight ahead on the road.
What is the major cause of vehicle accidents with a USPS mail truck?
The cover story indicates that distracted driving plays a large role in these types of accidents. Though the USPS indicates in its article that its goal is to improve safety, it does not offer any concrete solutions to decrease these vehicle accidents.
With texting, calls, social media, and countless other apps available to us through our cell phones, we should not expect the number of accidents due to distracted driving to decrease.
Getting hit by a USPS truck means that your personal injury case will be different than your typical car accident case since you’ve been hit by a government employee driving a government vehicle.
Do mail trucks have the right of way?
There is a common urban legend that when a police car with its sirens on, an ambulance with its sirens on, and a USPS mail truck all reach an intersection at the same time, the post office vehicle has the right of way.
While post office vehicles are not generally under the jurisdiction of the state and, therefore, are not subject to local traffic laws and cannot be ticketed, post office vehicle drivers are still subject to the Federal Tort Claims Act and may be sued for negligently causing any accidents or injuries. Therefore, even if a mail truck’s driver is not cited for his dangerous driving, the USPS can still be held accountable for any accidents they caused.
Is it a felony to hit a mail truck?
Another popular urban legend suggests that it is a felony just to hit a USPS mail truck. However, it is not a felony to hit a post office vehicle (unless you did it on purpose!), and the USPS can be held liable for any injuries or property damage it negligently causes in a vehicle accident just like a private commercial shipping company.
If I am hit by a USPS truck, what happens? How is it different from a regular car accident in Illinois?
In ordinary vehicle accidents in Illinois, the law that will control your path to recovery is Illinois state law and how its Courts have developed that law. When a vehicle accident involves an employee of the USPS inside one of their trucks, federal law, namely, the Federal Tort Claims Act, will be the law that will procedurally guide the case. It imposes different requirements when filing a claim or lawsuit.
How to Report an Accident and File a Claim Against the USPS
Since the USPS is a federal agency, there are small but critical differences when it comes to filing a claim for injuries. To file a claim against the USPS, you must:
Identify your injuries. This document should identify your injuries and damages, including physical injuries, property damage, and any lost work.
State the factual basis for your claim. This section should identify why the USPS driver was at fault. Remember, any damaging admissions you make will be used against you, so speak with an attorney before submitting the Claim!
Identify witnesses. If anybody witnessed the accident, you will need to provide their name and contact information.
Insurance. You will also need to disclose your automobile insurance information.
Demand for damages. Form 95 requires that you make a settlement demand for damages along with your claim. You should work with your attorney to determine a reasonable opening demand.
Submit your claim. Under USPS regulations, claims can be filed and must be accepted at any post office or postal facility.
There is a strict two year deadline to file a claim against the USPS, so it is essential that you act quickly to gather any police reports, witness statements, medical bills, and other accident information to avoid waiving your rights!
Once the USPS receives your claim, it has six months to respond to your demand. If it accepts your claim, it will pay out the total amount of damages demanded. If it rejects your claim, you will then have six months to file a lawsuit against the agency.
How much does the USPS pay out for car accidents each year?
Payments to settle claims against the USPS are substantial. In 2017 alone, the USPS accepted more than 12,000 claims and paid out almost $80 million in damages. These payments include claims for both minor property damage and serious personal injury.
How do I report unsafe driving by a USPS driver?
If you witnessed unsafe driving by a post office vehicle driver, you can submit a report to the USPS’s toll free hotline at 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777) Monday through Friday 7:00am-7:30pm or Saturday 7:00am – 5:00pm.
Try to obtain the vehicle’s identification number and be sure to mention the date, time, and location of the incident to improve the chances of corrective action being taken. Alternatively, you can also file a report at the USPS website.
I was hit by a USPS mail truck, do I need a lawyer?
Even if you have successfully dealt with private insurance companies before, dealing directly with the United States Postal Service requires strict compliance with its protocols before there is resolution. The process involves a different set of rules and is a complicated process.
Failure to adhere to the process set forth in the Federal Tort Claims Act may result in your claim being permanently barred. This means that you will not receive the financial compensation you are entitled to.
A person who chooses to represent themselves should remember that a judge will hold them to the same standard that they do an attorney. They will not be offered any breaks for important or dispositive deadlines or statute of limitations.
Unlike private individuals, the USPS is self-insured and does not carry insurance on its vehicle. This is because it is exempt from state vehicle insurance statutes. Additionally, unlike private insurance companies, the money you can possibly recover is not limited to the applicable auto insurance policy that was in effect at the time of the accident.
While the Federal Tort Claims Act extends to all federal government employees, the most common example are those that involve the United States Postal Service and its post office trucks because they are on our roads just about every single day. They drive large parts of their work day all around the community they are assigned to.
The process of starting, negotiating, and finalizing a claim with the USPS is a difficult, complicated, and confusing procedure. An error or mistake may result in you receiving nothing for your personal injury.
In order to ensure that deadlines and requirements are met and satisfied, contact one of the attorneys at The Kryder Law Group if you were involved in an accident to further discuss the details of your personal injury case.
What can I do if I’m injured when hit by a USPS mail truck?
If you’re injured in a USPS mail truck accident, you can start building your case by:
Contacting an experienced law firm in Illinois that handles personal injury cases
Referring the insurance adjuster or defense law firm to your lawyer
Can you sue the USPS for a car accident?
Under the Federal Tort Claims Act, you cannot sue the USPS for a car accident until you have exhausted all “administrative remedies.” When dealing with the US Postal Service, that means you will have to complete and file a Form 95 claim within two years of the vehicle accident. If the USPS rejects your claim, you will then have six months to file a lawsuit.
The Kryder Law Group’s personal injury attorneys will deal directly with the adjuster or defense firm so that you have the peace of mind that your attorneys are working to maximize the compensation you deserve.
The firm has already helped thousands of Illinois clients recover the benefits they deserve. Call us to discuss your case if you were injured in an accident.