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Who Is Responsible For This Truck Driver’s Death?


Who Should Have To Pay For This Man's Death?In 2008 B&B truck driver Billy Couch was making a delivery to the Elk Grove, Illinois USPS facility when a postal employee ran a forklift over Couch’s foot.

Two years later, Couch died as a result of his injuries.

For the two years following the accident, B&B Trucking used its worker’s compensation insurance to pay for Couch’s medical expenses.

Following Couch’s death, his widow Alyce Couch sued the government under the Federal Tort Claims Act.

A federal judge in Chicago sided with the Postal Service saying that Couch was a “borrowed employee” and that 90% of B&B’s revenue came from the Postal Service contract.

However, a 7th Circuit Court Judge David Hamilton  reversed the decision and said, “In this case, both parties agree that the Postal Service was not a borrowing employer under the common law test because it did not exercise control over the manner of Couch’s or his fellow B&B Trucking drivers’ work,” Courthouse New Service reported.

“This reasoning should be familiar to the Postal Service,” Hamilton wrote. “Drivers transporting mail under [USPS] contracts and other similar contracts cause accidents from time to time. When victims of such accidents sue the Postal Service under the FTCA, the Postal Service uses this same reasoning to show that these drivers are not its own employees but independent contractors for whom it bears no legal responsibility.” (Emphasis in original.)

“As the government would have it, though, [contract] drivers are independent contractors when they injure other people but borrowed employees when Postal Service employees injure them, at least in Illinois,” he added. “This ‘heads-I-win, tails-you-lose’ approach is both unfair and doctrinally incoherent. If the drivers are independent contractors, they cannot be borrowed employees – at least not at common law – because they are not under the Postal Service’s control.”

Drivers, who do you think is responsible for the death of Billy Crouch?


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