Postal workers often find themselves in hazardous and physically demanding situations during a typical workday. Cluttered walkways, aggressive dogs, heavy packages, and dangerous drivers are just some of the daily health hazards encountered by our mail carriers. Those in the sorting rooms and post offices can also suffer injuries in work accidents or due to repetitive movements. However, if you get injured on the job or develop a work-related illness, you are generally entitled to postal workers’ compensation benefits.
Unfortunately, obtaining the compensation you deserve after getting hurt can turn into a challenging and lengthy process. However, you do not have to battle alone to get what you deserve. Morgan & Morgan fights hard for injured workers. We want you to receive the compensation you need to move forward with your life and support your family. Our lawyers can assess your specific case and identify all potential avenues for compensation. Contact us now for help with your postal workers’ compensation claim.
What Is USPS Workers’ Compensation?
If a USPS employee or other federal worker is injured at work or becomes ill due to their work duties, they are generally covered by the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA). Workers can qualify for various benefits, including wage loss, disability, medical treatments, and vocational help. Dependents of postal workers who died as a result of their work-related illness or condition could qualify for death benefits. FECA is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs. The agency determines workers’ eligibility and pays out benefits directly to the injured workers or their beneficiaries.
Benefits Injured Postal Workers Can Collect
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), transportation workers such as mail carriers are at particular risk of suffering injuries and fatalities on the job. However, injuries can occur in various postal work environments, such as the sorting rooms or at USPS retail post offices. If you get injured at work, you could be entitled to benefits, including:
Wage Replacement Benefits
You could qualify for continuation of pay for up to 45 days if you suffered traumatic injuries on the job. In general, Continuation of Pay (COP) provides injured postal workers with their regular pay for up to 45 calendar days following an acute work injury. Postal workers have to request COP and submit the relevant medical evidence. Employees with occupational diseases do not qualify for COP. If you cannot return to work after the 45 days have passed, you could qualify for additional payments under the FECA.
Under FECA, an injured postal worker qualifies for having all their medical costs paid provided they are “reasonable and necessary” for treating the work-related disease or injury. Disabled workers needing around-the-clock care could be entitled to an additional monthly amount to help pay for their medical requirements.
Disabled workers are generally entitled to collect benefits whether they are partially or totally disabled.
Partial disability occurs if you can no longer work in your particular job but could adjust to part-time work or a different position. In this case, you could be entitled to wage loss benefits for loss of income arising from receiving a lower wage due to your partial disability.
If your work injury impacts you severely and you cannot work again, you can apply for total disability benefits and could receive monthly payments of:
- Two-thirds of your prior wage if you are single
- 75 percent of your previous monthly wage if you have dependents
As an injured postal worker, you could be entitled to vocational rehabilitation training and help with finding a job under FECA. You may also have to participate in a mandatory vocational rehabilitation program.
Death Benefits for Surviving Dependents
When a postal worker dies during work or due to a work-related illness, their dependents may be entitled to death benefits under the FECA. Eligible family members could include any family member dependent on the employee’s financial support, including:
The amount of compensation available to injured postal workers and their dependents can vary depending on the circumstances.
Getting injured on the job can derail your life instantly, especially if you are permanently disabled. However, as a federal employee, you deserve certain benefits that help manage your life after suffering a work-related condition or injury. Knowing what you are entitled to when you get hurt at work can be confusing. If you are unsure which benefits you qualify for or are currently not receiving what you need, our experienced workers’ comp lawyers could help.
Common Postal Worker Injuries
Postal workers can be prone to accidents and injuries as a result of their daily duties. Some common postal worker accidents and injuries include:
Slips and Falls
Mail carriers are working in all types of weather and hazardous conditions. They may be navigating uneven surfaces, cracks in sidewalks, and poorly lit areas every day while handling mail and packages. It is hardly surprising that postal workers trip and fall often. Workers in sorting facilities and post offices can also experience slip-and-fall accidents due to slippery floors, cluttered walkways, or other hazardous conditions.
Vehicle accidents can occur for numerous reasons, including another driver’s fault or postal worker fatigue. Traffic accidents can also happen due to a defective postal car or potholes and other road defects. Postal workers on rural routes, in particular, can suffer from a high rate of work-related vehicle accident injuries. Severe crashes can cause devastating and permanent injuries.
Repetitive strain injuries can arise due to a postal worker repeating the same motions over a long period of time, such as reaching to fetch mail from the back of the vehicle. Repetitive strain injuries can affect both clerks and mail handlers. Making the same movements over months and years can cause injury to tendons, muscles, and nerves. Common repetitive strain injuries include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Back and Neck pain
- Shoulder problems
- Rotator cuff tears
According to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), over 5,800 postal workers suffered dog bites and attacks in 2020. Dog bites can cause various injuries, including lacerations, deep puncture wounds, and infections.
Mail carriers deal with the general public every day, making them an easy target for violent attacks and assaults. Identity thieves can also attack postal workers to intercept mail.
What You Should Do as an Injured Postal Worker
If you get injured at work or suffer from work-related disease, you should act immediately to qualify for benefits. In the first instance, inform your supervisor or employer of the injury as soon as the accident happens. Failing to promptly report the accident and injury could make it much harder for you to obtain your benefits under the FECA.
The Claims Process
If you are injured on the job, you will not receive benefits automatically but will have to file a claim first. FECA claims are processed by the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP), which will make a decision based on the medical evidence you submit.
Depending on whether you suffered a traumatic injury or an occupational disease, you have to fill in one of the following two forms to apply for benefits:
CA-1 Federal Employee's Notice of Traumatic Injury and Claim for Continuation of Pay/Compensation
CA-2 Notice of Occupational Disease and Claim for Compensation
You Can Appeal Against Claim Denials
If your claim for worker’s compensation is denied, you will have the option to appeal. Your denial notice will include information on how to appeal against a denial. Appeals can be challenging and take several months or longer. If you received a denial letter, consider contacting an attorney who could help you fight for what you deserve after getting injured at work.
Morgan & Morgan Has Your Back
The process of receiving federal workers’ compensation benefits can be complex. However, if you get injured at work, you deserve financial help. If you find it tough to recover what you need to put your life back together, Morgan & Morgan can be here for you. Our tenacious workers’ compensation lawyers have helped countless injured postal workers and families receive their due. We can assist you with filing your claim, gathering the evidence needed, and fighting appeals.