As is true of any other claim against the Federal Government, if a tort has been committed for which a government employee was negligent which caused injury or damages to an innocent third party, the procedures of the Federal Tort Claims Act govern the claim. A Standard Form 95 with all supporting documents needs to be filed with the appropriate government agency involved before the expiration of two years. Regardless of the agency involved, the form must to be received by the appropriate agency/department. We use a hypothetical claim against the Postal Service here to address this important point.
With regards to claims against the Postal Service, effective August 23, 2011, the rules and regulations changed concerning where written communications should be directed. Previously, Notice of Claims were sent to the Chief Counsel National Torts Center in St. Louis, Missouri. Effective August 23, 2011, all written communications should instead be directed to the General Law Service Center, USPS National Torts Center, 1720 Market Street, Room 2400, St. Louis, Missouri 63155-9948.
When sending out a Form 95, where practicable, the local Post Master should be served with the Standard Form 95 as well as the Chief Counsel for the Torts Division at the address indicated. Indeed, we usually send out redundant copies of the Form 95 and with respect to Postal Service claims, we send it to the local Post Master, to the Chief Counsel of the Torts Division at the General Law Service Center address specified and also just to the General Law Service Center without the Chief Counsel’s address on it as a back up. In short, practitioners want to make sure that the Form 95 is received by the Postal Service and acted upon by the appropriate personnel. By sending redundant copies to multiple addresses, a claim with the Postal Service is likely to be responded to in a more expeditious manner.
When we send out a Standard Form 95, we do not just fill out the form and send it in above. We usually include all supporting documents including medical and hospital records, lost wage information, photographs, statements of witnesses and all other documents similar to a settlement brochure. The point of the process is to let the Government know that they are liable, that the claim is legitimate and that the damages claimed are legitimate as well. The more supporting documentation sent in support of the claim, the more likely it is that a positive response will be received back from the Federal Government. In particular, claims against the Postal Service, involving a wreck with a U.S. Postal truck as an example, the more information concerning how the accident occurred, what the damages are and how they were calculated, the more likely it is that the claimant will be successful in bring a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act without having to file suit. If the Form 95 claim is denied or not acted upon within six months, only the United States may be named as the defendant in U.S. District Court.