When a driver is injured in a crash caused by another driver, the legal process is pretty straightforward. In most cases, an injury claim is filed against the at-fault party’s insurance company, the victim’s car accident attorney and the insurance company will either negotiate a settlement or the claim will proceed to civil litigation and a judge or jury will decide the case.
But what happens if the at-fault driver was a postal worker driving a United States Postal Service vehicle? Vehicle accidents with government-owned vehicles are handled differently and can be more complex than other types of vehicle accidents. Because the USPS is a federal government agency, there are different laws that will apply and a different process for pursuing damages for any losses.
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At Shapiro & Appleton, our North Carolina car accident attorneys have extensive legal experience in accident claim involving government agencies. If you have been injured in a crash with a postal vehicle, contact our office to set up a free case evaluation with one of our attorneys. In the meantime, the following is a brief overview of this type of injury claim.
The Federal Tort Claims Act
When a victim is injured in a crash involving a USPS vehicle, it is the federal law – under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) – that will apply and not North Carolina injury law. Federal law makes it legally clear that the only entity that can be sued for damages by the victim is the United States government. Neither the USPS nor the USPS driver who was at fault for the crash can be sued.
There is also a specific procedure that victims need to follow. The first step a victim must take is filling out a form with the USPS (Form 95), providing details of the crash and the amount of damages they have suffered because of the crash.
Once the victim has filled out this form, there is a waiting period of six months before they can file a federal court claim. During this time, the USPS will investigate the victim’s claim. They may offer a settlement or attempt to negotiate a settlement amount. If no settlement is reached in that six-month period, then the victim can file the federal court claim. However – and this is critical – both of these forms must be filed with two years of the incident.
One issue that may further complicate a victim’s claim is if the postal driver was an independent contractor and not a USPS employee. If the driver was an independent contractor, an FTCA claim cannot be filed unless it can be shown that the USPS treated the contractor as an employee or that the agency had authority to control the performance of the contractor.
Contact a North Carolina Injury Lawyer Today
As you can see, collecting compensation when the other party is an employee of the government is a complex procedure and requires extensive knowledge of the FTCA. When a victim is injured in an accident caused by a government employee, the victim or victim’s family should contact an experienced North Carolina car accident attorney to see what legal recourse they may have against the negligent driver.
The legal team from Shapiro & Appleton have been advocating for injured clients since 1985 and will do all we can to ensure you receive the best possible outcome under the circumstances of your case. If you would like to meet with one of our skilled Carolinas injury attorneys to find out how we can help, call us today at 800-752-0042 for help.