Letter and mail carriers from the US Postal Service (USPS) carry 660 million mail pieces to over 142 million locations across the nation every day according to government data. Data through 2014 reveals that the USPS operates 31,000 post offices, delivering an annual number of 155 billion mail pieces.
These mail delivery numbers are astonishing and yet the efficiency of operations remains impressive until the number of mail carriers suffering a slip and fall each year is revealed. Mailmen cover big distances every day and use different mediums of transport to deliver mail including cycling, driving and walking, all of which come with their own set of dangers.
The risks increase exponentially when you throw heavy bags of mail and packages into the mix. Unfortunately, mail carriers are at risk of personal injury during their working lives with a majority of them related to the delivery of mail itself.
What Are The Common Causes Of Slips And Falls For Mail Carriers?
Package & letter carriers face all kinds of threats when delivering mail to different houses, commercial property, and offices. As one might expect, weather-related hazards are some of the most common causes of mailman slip and fall accidents. A dangerous condition on a property such as the accumulation of rain, mud, snow, or ice can all make a mail carrier lose their balance and fall.
Additionally, these dedicated public workers may also encounter aggressive dogs, broken staircases, slippery floors or even be involved in motorway accidents. Below are some common causes of slip and fall accidents specific to mailmen.
On The Ground Slip Accidents
Mail workers walk a lot from one place to another, especially when they are delivering mail in urban cities with limited parking spaces. They often have to park their vehicles at a distance and cover multiple streets on foot to deliver mail to recipients. This can end up posing a significant risk to them, as they have to navigate through multiple terrains with heavy bags and packages to get mail delivered on time.
The problem gets infinitely worse in cold winters where the ground is slick and filled with ice, which easily lead to slips and falls. In normal weather conditions , issues like uneven sidewalks, debris, potholes, foliage and other obstacles can trigger slip and fall accidents on the ground. They may also be susceptible to slip and fall accidents on office floors if the areas are not properly maintained and remain wet after cleaning.
Apart from ground slip and fall accidents, mailmen are in danger of slipping and falling on office, commercial, and residential staircases. In fact, staircases are often the most common threat for mail carriers because of the added risk of falling from a height.
Stairways of post offices, businesses, and homes can result in injured mail carriers for a myriad of reasons:
- Lack of suitable handrails
- Broken handrails
- Poor or no lighting
- Strewn and slippery debris
- Broken or chipped staircases
- Ice build-up on walking surfaces
- Rainwater puddles
- Torn carpeting
- Frayed threads of carpets
- Broken tree branches
- Unraked leaves on walkways
- Heavy snowfall
- Weakening floors
Any of these circumstances can lead to hazardous slip, trip, and fall accidents for mail carriers who need to be extra careful to ensure that they remain safe and injury-free.
Why Does A Mailman Face Increased Risk Of Personal Injury?
The sheer nature of the job requiring excessive walking with bulky bags could cause these slip and fall accidents for mail carriers.
They are also undertaking the same tasks over and over again, which over time cause repetitive motion injury. Carrying and pushing mail and packages could cause them to lose their balance and injure themselves if they slip and fall.
Injuries that often result from mailman slip and falls include:
- Broken ankles
- Broken bones
- Head injuries
- Brain trauma
- Shoulder injuries
- Fractured hip and tail bone
What About Mail Carrier Workers’ Compensation?
As employees of the federal government, mail carriers injured on the job are entitled to medical, hospital and wage payments depending on the extent of the injuries caused. If a mailman potentially dies on the job, the family may be entitled to death benefits.
Like all other federal government agencies, the USPS provides compensation under the federal workers’ compensation program known as the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) and managed by the US Labor Department. This program provides different benefits to letter carriers depending on the extent of their on-the-job injuries. Some of the benefits provided include:
- Medical and hospital expenses
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Payment of lost wages
- Payment of future wages lost resulting from the injury
- Death benefits
Workers’ compensation insurance may be one way in which you can obtain payment for your medical bills. But workers’ comp doesn’t always cover all of your expenses and if you need to take time off of work because of your injury, it is likely that you will receive only a fraction of the wages that you would have made.
If you accept workers’ compensation, you will be unable to file a claim against your employer, however, most slip and fall accidents occur on someone else’s property. In many cases, it is possible to pursue legal action against the property owner or a third party.
Premises Liability: How Do You Know If Someone Was Negligent?
Homeowners and offices may also be liable for injuries if the slip and fall accident took place on their property. But the accident must have been caused by some type of dangerous situation on the property that presents a risk to “visitors,” including mail deliverers.
In order to have a case here, the victim of the slip and fall needs to prove that the homeowner or building management was well aware of the dangerous situation and did nothing to rectify it. If this case can be proven, then the mail carrier may be able to claim liability against a business or a homeowner, but this is determined on a case by case basis. Mail carriers are entitled to safe working environments, and that includes people’s homes and offices.
When you pursue legal action, you must show that the defendant was negligent in some way and that their negligence caused your accident.
When determining negligence in slip and fall cases, attorneys and the court review several things:
- What was the dangerous condition that caused the mail carrier to slip and fall?
- How long was the hazard on the property for?
- Were there any signs warning the mail carrier of the hazard?
- Does the property owner inspect the property regularly for issues?
- Could the hazard have been discovered with a regular inspection?
- Was a third party hired to correct the issue?
If it can be determined that the hazard was there long enough so that the property owner must have known, or should have known about it, and that they failed to fix it or a third party failed to fix it, you likely have a case.
I Fell But I Think I’m Just Sore – Do I Need To Go To A Doctor?
YES. It is very important that you seek medical care even if you don’t think your injuries are serious. Many times the pain felt due to the injury gets worse over time, not better. Seek medical attention immediately after a fall and be sure to keep copies of any medical reports for your personal files.
How Can A Lawyer Help Me?
A local slip and fall law firm can help you in many ways.
Unfortunately, nearly 50% of all workers’ compensation claims are denied each year. Many of the clients that come to our law firm for help initially believe that if their case is denied, they will be left on their own, stuck with medical bills that are financially draining. In many instances, we are able to help them through the appeals process, ultimately leading to them being awarded the benefits they deserve.
Moreover, a lawyer can handle all communications with the insurance company and can also review the facts regarding your accident to help you determine if a third party might be responsible or if a premises liability case may be pursued.
Lastly, they can explain what all of your options are and how you might be able to recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages from time off of work, pain and suffering, and more.
What Will I Need To Show The Lawyer?
When you come in for a free consultation, you should bring any documents that pertain to your accident. This might include:
- medical records
- pictures of the area where you fell
- pictures of the hazard that caused your fall
- any worker’s comp paperwork you have filled out or received
- any reports that you made to the police
- copies of any bills for treatments or medications relating to your injuries
- the contact information for any witnesses that saw you fall
This information will help us determine what your next steps should be.