Postal workers typically operate vehicles owned by the United States Post Office (USPS) when they are working. As such, if a postal worker causes a collision during the process of delivering the mail, the federal government may be deemed liable for any losses caused by the crash. While the Federal Tort Claims Act (the Act) permits people to pursue claims against the federal government in certain situations, they must comply with the applicable procedural rules, otherwise, their claims may be dismissed. Recently, a Maryland court discussed the administrative remedies a plaintiff must exhaust before seeking damages from the federal government, in a case arising out of a car accident. If you were involved in a collision with a federal employee, it is in your best interest to meet with a Maryland car accident attorney as soon as possible to protect your right to seek compensation.
The Factual and Procedural History of the Case
It is reported that the plaintiff was driving his car on a Maryland highway when he collided with a postal vehicle that made an unsafe left turn in front of him. Three days after the accident, he had a telephone call with a USPS specialist who confirmed that the accident occurred and that the postal worker was at fault.
Allegedly, the plaintiff then retained an attorney who sent a demand letter and an SF-95 form to the USPS. Notably, neither the letter nor the form indicated the amount of damages the plaintiff sought. The plaintiff subsequently filed a federal lawsuit against the USPS, asserting a negligence claim. The USPS moved, inter alia, to dismiss the complaint due to the plaintiff’s failure to exhaust his administrative remedies.
Seeking Damages Pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act
The court ultimately granted the defendant’s motion and dismissed the plaintiff’s claim. Under the Act, a plaintiff cannot institute a tort claim against the federal government unless they have first presented the claim to the government within two years of when it accrues, and they were notified their claim was denied. This presentation of the claim is a jurisdictional requirement that cannot be waived.
A potential litigant can satisfy their obligations under the act by providing the government with notice that is adequate to allow it to investigate the claim and establishes a “sum certain” value. In the subject case, it was undisputed that the plaintiff failed to provide the USPS with a specific value of his claim. As such, the court found that he failed to meet the claim notice requirement and dismissed his complaint for lack of jurisdiction.
Speak to a Dedicated Maryland Car Accident Attorney Today
While the federal government can be held accountable for the negligence of their employees, people may unwittingly waive their right to seek compensation if they do not act promptly. If you sustained losses in a collision with a federal employee, it is wise to speak to a Maryland car accident lawyer regarding your rights. The dedicated Maryland attorneys of Foran & Foran, P.A. can assess the circumstances surrounding your harm and help you to seek any damages you may be owed. We have an office in Greenbelt, and we regularly represent parties in car accident lawsuits in cities in Prince George’s County and Montgomery County. You can contact us by using our online form or calling us at (301) 441-2022 to set up a confidential and free consultation.