When victims are injured by negligent mail truck drivers, they can recover compensation for their losses but since postal trucks belong to the federal government, claims must be filed according to the Federal Tort Claims Act.
Filing a Lawsuit Against the Federal Government
Under the FTCA, an accident victim is prohibited from filing a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent mail truck driver or the United States Postal Service. Instead, a lawsuit must be filed against the United States.
Federal Tort Claims do not involve insurance companies like personal injury claims. Because they involve the federal government, claims are often complicated and go through a lengthy process that includes strict rules. Before filing a lawsuit, a plaintiff must first file Form 95 with the U.S. Postal Service that states the nature of the claim and a predetermined settlement price referred to as a “sum certain.” This is a legal term that designates a specific monetary amount in the claim that is not open to interpretation and is non-negotiable. This legal process is very different from personal injury lawsuits where a settlement amount is often negotiated between parties, auto accident attorneys, and insurance companies.
To file a valid federal claim against the government, a claimant must prove:
- Property damage and/or personal injury was caused by a federal government employee
- The government employee was performing his/her official duties at the time of the accident
- The government employee acted negligently or wrongfully
- The employee’s negligence or wrongful actions caused the plaintiff’s damage or injury
Under the Federal Tort Claims Act, the federal government acts as its own insurer and recognizes liability for negligent or wrongful actions or omissions of its employees who are acting within the scope of their official duties when the action occurs. The United States is liable for damages in the same way an individual is liable under a personal injury lawsuit. In a Federal Tort Claim, the injured party becomes the plaintiff and the United States becomes the defendant.
Federal Tort Claims must be filed with the proper federal agency within the statute of limitations, two years from the date of damage or injury resulting from negligence. Claimants must allow at least six months for the government agency to investigate before filing a lawsuit in federal court.