The U.S. Postal Service is Subject to the Federal Tort Claims Act
Yes, you can sue the U.S. Postal Service for causing a fatal accident with a motorcyclist or any other vehicle, but the strict requirements of the Federal Tort Claims Act must be followed. A recent case out of a court in South Carolina demonstrates that you can get a successful verdict against the United States Postal Service for the negligence of USPS mail carriers on the road.
On September 12, 2002, Jerry D. Jackson was on a motorcycle trip to South Carolina with nine other motorcyclists. While the group was riding back home to North Carolina on U.S. Highway 701 a rural mail carrier employee, Carolyn Cole, entered the road and crashed into Mr. Jackson and the other motorcyclists. Cole was attempting to make a right turn onto the shoulder of Highway 701, she saw and heard the group of motorcyclists coming toward her, as Cole decided whether she would be able to avoid hitting a mailbox that was just to the right of her vehicle she began slowly moving backwards. Since she was on an incline, she pressed the accelerator to start moving forward and realized the motorcyclists were closer than before. As she decided to delay her right turn, her car jumped forward and the accident occurred. Cole first hit Harry Halstead which caused the car to begin spinning and then hit Roy Joffrion. Mr. Jackson never hit the car but as he attempted to swerve left of the vehicle he lost control and sustained fatal injuries. The Plaintiff, Mr. Jackson’s wife Kimberly Jackson, sued the United States.
The total damages amounted to $4,131,916.08.
Mr. Jackson was employed part time as an emergency medical technician at Dunn Emergency Services. The Plaintiff brought in testimony from Dr. Oliver Wood Jr., an economic loss expert, who concluded that, if Mr. Jackson had found a full-time job elsewhere, he would have an annual salary of $48,000. The Court found that the Plaintiff was not entitled to a damage award in that amount because Mr. Jackson did not have a full-time job when he died, nor was there evidence that he had applied for a full-time job at the time of his death. But, there was reliable evidence that Mr. Jackson contributed greatly to household services. Dr. Wood testified that Mr. Jackson contributed $120,389 to family services. The Court found this evidence sufficient and the Plaintiff was entitled this reward.
Dr. Jesse Riley, an expert in forensic psychiatry, evaluated and described the mental health impacts of Mr. Jackson’s death on his wife and his son. Several close friends and family also testified about how heartbroken the family was left after Mr. Jackson’s death and his role in their lives. The Court determined that the family was entitled to damages for their human losses (sometimes called non-economic damages), which were valued at four million dollars and funeral expenses which were $11,527.08.
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident by a postal service truck, contact a lawyer immediately.
These types of wrecks can cause serious and life long injuries. We have represented clients who have been involved in such USPS collisions. Such wrecks may require emergency EMT services, different modalities of imaging, physical therapy, occupational therapy, or speech therapy. Some of our clients have required out-patient visits to neurologists, physical medicine and rehabilitation doctors, audiologists, ear-nose-throat (“ENT”) doctors, among others.
Once you have dealt with all the medical issues that may arise out of such an accident, you may need to navigate the Federal Tort Claims administrative and legal framework to receive compensation for such injuries. We have experience navigating the FTCA administrative and legal framework.