Often, many people do not think anything of the mail being delivered to their house each day. They only wonder about the safety or concerns of the mail carrier when the mail does not arrive. As a United States Postal Service (USPS) employee, you deliver every day and think nothing of it. However, you have the same chance of getting involved in a car accident during your workday as other drivers on the road.
If you get injured while delivering the mail, whether from a dog bite or a car accident, you will likely lose time from work and accumulate medical expenses. Injury compensation can help cover these expenses and losses. If you are injured, you will want to know your next steps to obtain this money to help pay for medical treatment and potential extended sick leave.
Were you or a family member involved in a job-related car accident and are wondering about your U.S. Postal Service PIP insurance and workers’ compensation benefits? Contact the experienced Michigan workers’ compensation claims attorneys at Matz Injury Law at 1-866-22Not33.
As a federal employee with the U.S. post office, you will need to file your workers’ compensation claim with Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA). FECA is a program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) that provides compensation benefits to civilian employees who are hurt, sick, or otherwise injured during the course of their job.
This process is designed to be expedient and resolved administratively so the federal government can avoid litigation. Its goal is for injured workers to receive prompt payment of medical bills and compensation (wage loss) and to provide assistance in returning to work. FECA is collectively paid for by government agencies that contribute each year.
After suffering an injury, you need to notify your employer as soon as possible or what is considered to be a reasonable period of time once the illness or injury is identified. When a USPS manager or supervisor receives your report, they must:
Your employer will need to file a Form CA-1 or Form CA-2 within 45 days of the injury to the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP).
If you become injured or sick during your job in the postal service work environment, you are obligated to report certain symptoms to your supervisor or manager when filing an OWCP claim. There are two primary categories of injury: traumatic injury and occupational disease.
If a federal government employee reports consistent pain throughout a single shift, it is considered a traumatic injury. This type of injury is defined by the National Association of Letter Carriers as one caused by “external force, including stress or strain, which is identifiable as to the time and place of occurrence and member or function of the body affected.” This could be a slip and fall, car accident, dog bite, or other incident.
This type of injury must have occurred due to a “specific event or incident” or “series of events or incidents” within a singular shift or workday. Do not delay in reporting because there are a series of forms that both you and your employer must separately file. When you file, there will be a question (#15) that will ask you to choose between Continuation of Pay (COP) or sick and/or annual leave. Continuation of Pay has specific criteria you must meet. Work with an experienced Michigan attorney to make sure you do not inadvertently miss any steps.
If your injury occurred over the course of more than one work shift or workday, your condition would be classified as an occupational disease. Types of injuries that fall into this category include back strain from loading and unloading packages, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other repetitive motions that lead to pain.
It is always a good idea to report an occupational disease as soon as possible, but under FECA, you, or your acting agent on your behalf, are required to provide notice within three years of the condition’s onset. Not being proactive about reporting your injury to your employing agency could result in a loss of compensation rights. Speak with a knowledgeable Michigan workers’ comp attorney to ensure you do not miss any important steps you must take if you have an occupational disease.
USPS employees who suffer work-related injuries during the course of their job are required to follow specific steps when filing a FECA claim.
After you suffer an injury or an illness that occurs on your work shift, or as soon as you realize the affliction, be sure to report it to your supervisor or manager immediately.
If you need emergency care, get it immediately. Under non-emergency circumstances, ask your employer to authorize medical treatment using a CA-16 Form. Take the CA-16, along with an OWCP-1500/HCFA-1500 form, with you to your appointment. If your injury or illness is work-related, you want to see your healthcare provider as soon as possible to receive a checkup and evaluation. Depending on the nature of your injury, you may have medical restrictions or need to perform limited duties.
After seeking medical treatment, under federal rules, postal service employees must file a written notice of their injury and submit it to their supervisor or manager within 30 days. To do this, use an employee-agency-supplied form, depending on your situation. For traumatic injuries, use the CA-1 Form. For occupational diseases, use the CA-2 Form.
After filing your CA-1 or CA-2 Form, your supervisor will complete and attach a notice of receipt to it. Request a copy if you are not offered one since this is essential documentation.
Claimants pursuing compensation payments in the form of continuation of pay, leave, or compensation for wage loss should speak to an attorney to help determine their eligibility. The process can be complex, and if you miss a step, file the wrong form, or overlook a deadline, you could inadvertently harm your claim.
Plan to take the preceding steps promptly and be careful not to miss any of the strict deadlines imposed by this process.
USPS employees are often responsible for physically demanding tasks that take a toll on the human body. Common postal worker injuries and medical conditions include the following types of injuries.
Mail clerks and letter carriers often perform repetitive motions while sorting, carrying, lifting, or otherwise handling mail and packages. As a result, muscles, tendons, and even nerves can be harmed by repeated movement, resulting in severe pain.
Due to the sheer amount of driving a mail carrier does, the risk of an accident is ever-present. Whether the driver is doing park-and-loop routes or delivering to mailboxes in rural areas, they may be hit by another driver, face inclement weather, or encounter construction or other poor road conditions, leading to injury.
Mail carriers, even drivers, spend plenty of time walking in all kinds of weather, including rain, sleet, snow, and hail, which often lead to dangerous work situations and are prime conditions for slips or falls. Employees can also slip and fall on uneven surfaces or poorly tended roadways, sidewalks, and driveways. Dimly lit walkways or hallways also can cause hazards for postal employees.
Every year, approximately 6,000 USPS postal carriers are attacked by dogs. Health implications and complications caused by dog bites include infections, rabies, tetanus, nerve damage, broken bones, and scarring.
If you are receiving federal workers’ comp, you can stay on it for as long as your injury remains and the medical report is consistent and shows why you cannot return to work. To continue to qualify, you must agree to all OWCP requests and do so within the allotted time periods they stipulate. If you do not comply, your compensation may end.
If you were injured while on the job and, as a result, cannot work, you can apply for Continuation of Pay. To qualify, you must:
Continuation of Pay allows you to earn your salary for up to 45 days after your injury.
When it comes to repaying workers’ comp from any settlement awards, there is bad news and good news on that issue. Remember, the situation discussed below applies only to federal workers, not to state workers’ compensation situations. We are also talking about cases where another driver was at fault. If you are at fault, none of this will apply to you.
Postal workers and many other federal employees have workers’ compensation through the Federal Employees Compensation Act. If you are a worker covered under FECA and are hurt on the job (no matter who is at fault), your FECA benefits pay medical and wage loss expenses. If the other person was at fault, you may also have a liability claim for money damages for pain and suffering, which would be over and above the medical and wage loss claims. Your pain and suffering claim would go against the insurance for the at-fault driver who caused the injury and not your FECA policy.
If you are injured in an incident involving a motor vehicle in Michigan, and you were on the job when this happened, you may also qualify for no-fault benefits through your car insurance policy, even if you were not in your own car. Initially, your auto carrier will likely decline to pay any medical or wage loss claims from the accident. The insurance company will say that FECA has to pay those since you were on the job when you were hurt.
Furthermore, FECA law says injured employees must repay FECA for any medical and wage loss benefits they receive if they are injured on the job and receive a settlement or other money from the person who caused their injuries. This may result in a situation where the amount FECA paid out to you or for your expenses is greater than the amount of the settlement. You would get nothing in that situation if that’s the case.
Now the good news. Because the FECA benefits can be taken back out of any settlement you receive, if that happens, you can then apply to your no-fault insurance to have that company reimburse you for the amount you had to repay to FECA. The reasoning behind this is that if you had to repay the benefits, you did not really get any benefits. The case (if it is a Michigan case) ends up being a standard no-fault claim, where your insurance company (or whichever company is the highest priority in your situation) has to pay the benefits for auto-related wage loss and medical bills.
For additional information, read our post on PIP & Social Security Benefits here.
Yes, if your initial claim was denied, you can file an appeal with the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs. Your lawyer would first work out repaying FECA from your settlement. Then an agreement would be reached to have the no-fault company pay you back whatever amount was taken out of your settlement to repay FECA.
Matz Injury Law can advocate for you if your claim is denied. Whenever a federal employee, while on the job, is injured in a motor vehicle crash in Michigan that is not their fault, FECA comes into play. The U.S. Department of Labor Office of Workers’ Compensation will pay for the employee’s medical care and lost wages due to the crash. The employee’s auto no-fault carrier will also likely have to pay for a portion of the employee’s lost wages and medical care that workers’ compensation does not cover.
It gets tricky when the employee makes a claim against the person who caused the crash and is awarded money. The employee then must pay back the portion of the benefits that the federal government paid on the employee’s behalf. However, then they are out the money they would have otherwise received. Unfortunately, sometimes insurance companies deny reimbursement, and an appeal must be filed so the victim can recoup the money they deserve.
As you can see, this gets a bit complicated, but it can be worked out through careful case management and proper negotiation. Being such a complex and nuanced area of law, you should not attempt to navigate an appeal yourself. Always seek the assistance of an experienced attorney who understands state and federal law regarding car accidents and workers’ compensation if you are injured on the job.
Postal service employees are, unfortunately, at high risk for traumatic or occupational injury. If you or a loved one need to file for PIP through the insurance company or file a FECA claim, our caring and compassionate attorneys at Matz Injury Law know how to navigate these complex injury claims. To learn more about how we can help, call us at 1-866-22Not33 or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation.
Steven J. Matz is a founding shareholder of Matz Injury Law. The firm’s concentration is on personal injury litigation, with an emphasis on traumatic brain injury.
The maximum contingency fee permitted by law is actually 331/3%. Michigan court rules require that the attorney fee be computed on the net sum recovered after deducting all disbursements properly chargeable to the enforcement of the claim.
We can charge 22% while virtually all other injury attorneys charge 331/3% because we are very, very, good at obtaining results for our clients.
We do not spend millions of dollars on television ads; instead, we offer a lower fee to all our clients. We do not have dozens of lower paid associates handling our work. All our clients are represented by Steven and Jared Matz. Steven Matz started the firm in 1977 and since then has dedicated his life to representing injury victims. Jared joined the firm in 2016 but grew up listening to stories, discussing theories, and generally learning at the dinner table about how to effectively and compassionately represent injury victims. Jared Matz was literally born to represent individuals involved in motor vehicle crashes.
All of our cases are handled on a contingency fee and all our cases are handled at 22%. Whether the case settles or goes through trial, the fee does not change. While our competitors make excuses as to why they charge so much, we are obtaining results for our clients at a lower fee.
At a typical television advertising law firm, your first call will be handled by a receptionist, who may refer you to an intake person, who will discuss your claim with an intake manager, who then discusses your claim with an associate, who may then report to a partner. You may never speak with the person whose name is at the top of the letterhead. At Matz Injury Law you will always speak with either Steven Matz or Jared Matz.