The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA)
When you’re involved in an accident with a USPS vehicle or Postal Truck, the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) governs your claim. The FTCA allows victims of accidents caused by Federal Government employees to file lawsuits against the federal government. Unlike a typical personal injury claim against a private individual, UPS, or FedEx driver in Massachusetts, this Act requires specific steps when dealing with federal government entities like the U.S. Postal Service. Remember, the rules here are different – you’re dealing with federal laws, not just state laws.
It’s also helpful to note that U.S. Postal Service vehicles are self-insured and are exempt from state vehicle insurance statutes. Unlike a typical pedestrian vs. motor vehicle accident in Massachusetts, PIP benefits will not be available through the Postal Service truck.
1. Time-Sensitive Notice: 2 Years from Date of Accident
Pursuant to the FTCA’s presentment requirement, you must file an administrative claim against the Federal Government Agency within two years of the accident date. This is referred to as Presentment and operates as a statute of limitations. This is crucial; missing this deadline can lead to your case being dismissed. This is similar to the Presentment requirement under the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act (MTCA), G. L. c. 258, §4.
This is distinguishable from other car accident and pedestrian accident claims in Massachusetts, where generally the statute of limitations is three (3) years from the date of the accident.
Don’t delay. Talk to a personal injury attorney immediately if you’ve been involved in an accident with a USPS truck.
2. Must demand a ‘Sum Certain’ for damages
Presenting your administrative claim involves submitting Standard Form 95 to the Federal Agency [U.S. Postal Service] whose employee’s actions caused your injuries. Using Standard Form 95 is not required, but is highly recommended.
Standard Form 95 will describe the Basis for your Claim, injuries, medical bills, lost wages, future medical expenses, any property damage, and other financial losses. Presentment also requires demanding a Sum Certain for damages.
It’s important to note, if a sum certain dollar amount is not specified, your presentment will not be considered valid and can be dismissed.
Demand high. The sum certain sets the upper limit of compensation a court can award, so it’s vital that your personal injury attorney assess your claim’s value carefully. 28 U.S.C. § 2675(b)
6-Month Waiting Period: After filing your notice, there’s a mandatory six-month waiting period before you can proceed to court. This time is often used for settlement discussions. If a fair settlement isn’t reached, your case will move to federal court, not state court. Be mindful that Federal Courts operate differently than State Courts.
3. Attorney Fee limitations
The FTCA also controls the relationship between attorneys and their clients and limits attorney’s fees in these types of cases. Attorneys’ fees are limited to 20% of any administrative settlement and 25% of any award or judgment achieved after a lawsuit is filed. See 28 U.S.C. § 2678
Mail truck accidents can result in serious injuries. If you’ve been involved in an accident with a USPS driver, seek medical attention, obtain a police report, as well as any witness statements. Given the complexity of these types of cases, contact an experienced personal injury attorney who specializes in USPS mail truck accidents. Call or reach out to Gavagan Law, LLC and we’ll guide you through this process and pursue the compensation you rightfully deserve. Call or reach out using our contact form and speak with us for a free consultation.