A Jamesville, New York biker was killed yesterday when a United States Post Office mail truck made a left hand turn in front of him. Forty-seven year old William J. Allen was traveling north on Apulia Road, at or about the intersection of West Shore Manor Road, when the mail truck turned into his path. According to Syracuse.com, a witness driving behind the mail truck said that there was sun glare which may have made it hard for the mail truck driver to see Allen.
“While this sounds like an ordinary motorcycle accident, it is not,” said Syracuse wrongful death lawyer Michael A. Bottar. Because the United States Postal Service owned the mail truck involved, there are special rules that apply to any legal proceedings that may arise out of this incident. Generally, under a doctrine called “sovereign immunity,” a private citizen was not allowed to “sue the King.” The doctrine was continued into modern times and prohibits private citizens from suing the government – unless the government authorizes the lawsuit. The details about whether a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the government is authorized can be found int the Federal Tort Claims Act.
In order to file a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act, the injured and/or or the injured’s family must first file an administrative claim with the federal agency allegedly responsible for the negligence. The claim typically is reduced to a document called a Form 95. This is where may lawyers fall short. If a Form 95 is not filed, then the private citizen lacks standing to file a lawsuit against the government. Also, the window to file a Form 95 is only two years from when the claim accrues.