The United States Postal Service is a revered, respected, and absolutely necessary entity that has connected us to loved ones since the earliest days of our country. For years, it was the only service we had to communicate important messages to one another. As technology advances, however, and emails, texts, and Zoom makes that connection even easier, we pay less attention to the USPS and its impact on us. Mail is outdated after all, right? Pen-pals are not typically done in pen anymore. Aside from the latest supply chain issues, there just is not as much demand for USPS to be at the forefront of anyone’s mind.
While this may be true, there is still enough paper mail and packages to keep the USPS up and running, which means even if they do not stop at your door, you will most likely see one of their iconic trucks on the roads at some point in time. Those same trucks have been around forever, but as people are finding out, this may not be a good thing – for the drivers and all others around them.
Accidents with USPS are common and complicated
If a vehicle is on the road, it is in danger of being involved in a collision. USPS vehicles are no different. They are, like all other vehicles, at the mercy of their driver and those who maintain them, which means they are privy to all the causes of “normal” accidents. In 2019, there were about 29,000 accidents involving USPS trucks, so they do happen fairly often. However, unlike normal accidents that involve two citizens of the public and their own vehicles, these collisions involve federal trucks and civil servants, so holding the proper party accountable has another, complicated layer.
But make no mistake – a truck is a truck, USPS or not. It is dangerous and it can hurt you and those you love when driven improperly or lazily maintained. With their high center of gravity and clunky design, it is all too easy for a fender-bender to turn into something more serious. Back in July, in fact, when a passenger vehicle failed to see the USPS truck speeding in its direction, the resulting collision flipped the truck over and briefly shut down the road. Someone, though which party is unknown, was taken to the hospital as a result.
Because these are federally-funded vehicles belonging to a federally-owned service, it is the federal government that is liable when one of these dangerous collisions occur – and they are no stranger to dealing with them. Or, rather, not dealing with them. Even after an accident with a USPS truck left a teenager traumatized and blind in one eye, the federal government fought their charges for years before eventually coming to a settlement.
New USPS vehicles will be safer
Just about anyone in the country can picture a USPS vehicle at will, and for good reason. Believe it or not, the same exact model has been in use since 1987. Already, it is easy to see the potential problems from this, especially because they were never exactly “luxury” vehicles. They have no air conditioning, air bags, or even a back window – and how often have you seen a postal worker driving with the door wide open? Obviously, this design has never been safe, not even for those who drive it.
Thankfully, they are on their way out. Legislators have put together a package to help the postal service afford an entire new fleet of shiny, safer vehicles. While they are still trucks (and capable of carrying even more than the current models), they are safer and more streamlined with a modern touch to help carry USPS into the modern era.
These new vehicles will not be launched until 2023. In the meantime, the iconic — and iconically dangerous — trucks of old remain on the roads and firmly in commission.
Can you sue the federal government for an accident with a USPS truck?
Yes, you can – but it is a complicated process. Suing the federal government in any form requires filing a lawsuit under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). To seek compensation under an FTCA claim, “the claimant must demonstrate that:
- he was injured or his property was damaged by a federal government employee;
- the employee was acting within the scope of his official duties;
- the employee was acting negligently or wrongfully; and
- the negligent or wrongful act proximately caused the injury or damage of which he complains.”
The first thing you have to do is fill out Standard Form 95 that outlines what happened, which federal agency was involved, what your medical bills were, and so forth. You have two years to submit this form, but things move quickly after that. The USPS has to respond within six months. If they pay out your claim, then you’re done. If they deny your claim, you only have six months to file a lawsuit. You cannot file a lawsuit against USPS without first submitting a claim.
Gainsberg Law has successfully secured compensation under the FTCA for a client whose son was injured by a postal truck. We obtained a settlement of $103,897 for our clients.
If you are seriously injured in an accident with a USPS truck, there are avenues for collecting compensation, but you need to move fast. At Gainsberg Law, our Chicago personal injury attorneys want you to be able to focus on your recovery while we work to ensure you can afford it. It makes no difference to us if the party liable is private or federal — we still want to help you get the justice you deserve. For a no-obligation review of your case, call us today at 312-600-9585 or use our contact form.
Neal S. Gainsberg has spent the last 20 years fighting to protect the rights of the injured in Chicago and throughout Illinois. From consumer rights and bankruptcy to catastrophic injuries and wrongful death, Mr. Gainsberg stands up to large corporations, insurance companies, creditors and hospital administrators to ensure that his clients’ futures are safe and secure. Learn More