Crashes involving large trucks can end in serious injury or even death. It is common sense that the larger the vehicle involved in an accident, the more likely it is to cause devastating damage. That is why cases involving tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers, box trucks, and other large trucks require a lawyer with a specific expertise in trucking accidents. But cases involving those same trucks driven by employees of the Federal Government or the United States Postal Service (“USPS”) require an even higher level of expertise. The reason being, a federal law called the Federal Tort Claims Act governs when, where, and how to make a claim against the federal government for personal injury.
“FTCA” claims can not only be car accidents involving USPS trucks, but medical malpractice cases against government hospitals like the Veterans Administration, premises liability cases on government premises, and other negligence by the federal government or its employees. This blog focuses specifically on how to make a claim for personal injury against the Postal Service.
Federal Tort Claims Act:
The FTCA is full of specific rules that differ from the federal or state rules on how to bring a claim. For example, in a personal injury lawsuit against a delivery truck owned by a company—like a UPS truck or a FedEx truck—the injured person can simply sue the driver and the corporation so long as the action is filed within the statute of limitations period. But under the FTCA, there are several forms and timelines you must adhere to before you can even consider filing a lawsuit. The first step in filing a lawsuit against the Postal Service is sending a Form 95.
Standard Form 95:
The FTCA requires each claimant, or person injured due to a USPS driver’s negligence, to file an administrative claim with the federal agency who committed negligence and caused the harm. The government requires a Standard Form 95 be filed within 2 years to establish that claim.
The form is called a “Standard” form 95 because the form is the same for every claimant. The injured person must state who their claim is against, some personal information, the date and time of the incident, and other important information about the claimant and the incident giving rise to her claim. The Act also requires the claimant state a “sum certain amount” for their injury. This amount is what the claimant is demanding as compensation. Without the including of a sum certain amount on the Form 95 to the USPS, the claimant’s submission is not considered a valid claim and will prohibit her from making a claim in the future.
The 6-month waiting period under the FTCA:
Once a Form 95 is submitted, the federal government has 6 months to respond. This is significantly longer than the time an insurance company has to respond to a demand in Georgia before a suit is filed. The federal agency may agree that the injured person’s claims are valid and pay all or offer some of the amount demanded. Or that agency may reject the claim—either doing so explicitly or allowing 6 months to pass with no response. At the end of the 6 month period or after the rejection, the claimant may file suit.
When the injured person files their lawsuit against USPS, it must be in federal court in the district where the injury occurred. Federal courts in this instance have exclusive jurisdiction over FTCA claims under what is called federal question jurisdiction. In most instances, that means because the claims are based on issues of federal law, the federal courts are best equipped to oversee those claims.
Attorney’s Fees under the FTCA:
The attorney’s fees on personal injury matters are typically based on contingency fees. Claims under the FTCA are no different in that respect. However, the amount of the fee is capped by the Act. For cases settled during the administrative process prior to filing a lawsuit, the federal government caps the attorney fees at 20% of the total recovery. For cases litigated in court, the attorney’s fees are increased to 25% of the total recovery.
The lawyers at Rafi Law Firm are experienced in handling claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act and cases involving truck accidents. If you or someone you know was injured in a truck accident or an accident involving a United States Postal Service truck, call 404-800-1156 for a free consultation with a Georgia Truck Accident Lawyer.
For more information on how to make claim for accidents with a commercial vehicle like a UPS truck accident, a FedEx truck accident, or a DHL accident, click here.
For more information on the kinds of damages you can recover after a truck accident, click here.
For information on how to make a claim against the state government in Georgia, click here.