12 ON YOUR SIDE ALERT: USPS claims immunity after allegedly wrecking car

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - A Chesterfield family may have to sue the federal government over damages to their car.

We investigated a complaint after a mail carrier allegedly caused their son to wreck on Woodpecker Road. April Williams called 12 when the United States Postal Service told her in no uncertain terms - it has no intentions of paying for damages to her car, even though police wrote the letter carrier a ticket at the accident scene.

The USPS is claiming immunity.

When April got the call no parent wants, telling her that her son was in an accident, she didn't think about damages then to her 1993 Toyota - but she's calculating the costly crash now.

"Towing was $349, storage fees $49 to remain here on the lot. As far as repairs, we're looking at a little over $3,000," said April.

Most of us go around mail trucks without incident. Cody says the accident happened July 22 when he drove up on a mail truck stopped on the shoulder of Woodpecker Road.

"I went to go around her, because that's what you do when they're stopped, and when I went to go around her, right when I got on to the side of her, she just pulled out in front of me. I slammed on the brakes, but it was pouring down raining. I couldn't stop," said Cody.

We got a copy of the subpoena showing postal worker Vanessa Stith was charged with failure to stop before entering a highway.

April got a letter stating they regret any damages but USPS is not liable, citing government immunity laws.

"They're not going to pay for my car," said April. "How can you refuse to speak to me? You've decided not to stand behind the fact that your USPS truck totaled my car."

Everything USPS will say to me is in an email that starts, "The postal service is not at liberty to discuss particulars and ends with..." "carriers are required to obey traffic laws..." "The customer is aware of her options."

Bottom line, if you collide with a mail truck and the letter carrier is at fault, you have to sue the U.S. Government under the Federal Tort Claims Act. The carrier is a federal worker.

"Their vehicle caused the accident. She was charged," said April.

"I don't want her to lose her job, but I'd like my mom's car to be fixed," said Cody.

Filing a claim against the government is complicated. Miss a deadline, and you may miss out on recovering damages. April says she doesn't have money for a lawyer, and they only have liability insurance. Comprehensive coverage would allow them to file a claim with their insurance company and let them handle it.

The letter carrier goes to court in October.

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