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Homeowner Slips on Package Delivered by Postal Service

Michael Talve, CEO

Written by
— Updated on February 23, 2017

This case concerns a homeowner who went outside to pick up a package that had just been delivered by the postal service. The postman had left the package below the homeowner’s front door step. When the homeowner went out the door to pick up the package, she slipped on the package because it was placed directly beneath the front door step. The homeowner fell to the ground and suffered numerous injuries including a hip fracture, abrasions to the forehead, shock to her nervous and skeletal system, bilateral numbness and tingling in her hands, and severe emotional and physical pain and suffering. The homeowner sued the US Postal Service claiming that the postman had negligently placed the package below the front door step.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Can a homeowner sue the US Postal Service if they slip and fall on a package that is placed beneath the homeowner’s front door step?

Expert Witness Response

The law that governs this type of slip and fall case against the government is called the Federal Tort Claims Act. This law is codified at 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b)(1). This law allows people to bring personal injury claims against the government for the negligence of government employees. There is an exception to this law called the “postal matter” exception that is codified in 28 U.S.C. § 2680(b). This exception provides immunity to the government from lawsuits over the negligent transmission of letters or postal matter. In general, this law shields the government from lawsuits stemming from damage and delay to letters and postal material. The postal matter exception has been interpreted as applying to cases where the government is being sued for liability arising from loss or harm to the mail itself and does not shield the government for injuries caused by the negligence of postal employees. Since the postal matter exception does not apply to cases where a postal employee places a package where someone might slip on it, the government is probably liable in this case for the homeowner’s injuries. Since the postman, in this case, had a duty to place the package somewhere that protected the personal safety of the homeowner, the government is probably liable for his negligence in placing the package in the wrong place where the homeowner was likely to slip on it.

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