Who Pays If A Snow Plow Hits Your Mailbox In New Jersey?
It's coming! We're about to get walloped with yet another Nor’easter snow storm. Of course, that means our plows will be working overtime to clean up the mess and get us back on the roads. Ultimately, our plow crews are snow warriors to whom we are eternally grateful. However, there are mailbox causalities in that process. When your mailbox is leaning sideways after getting plowed into…(pun intended) who’s payin’? We found out...
When there is a mailbox causality, is it the responsibility of the homeowner or the town to replace it? The answer may surprise you.
I ask this question because a neighbor had this happen, they replaced their mailbox on their dime, and then it happened again! They invested in a decorative mailbox too making it all the more aggravating. There is a written policy on the matter in New Jersey and it states:
If you live on a Borough road (not a County road) and your mailbox is damaged by a plow truck, you can call the Department of Public Works to report the damage within three days of the snow event. You will need to provide:
Mailbox Damage: box; post; box and post
Then, a crew member will inspect the damage to the mailbox and determine if it needs to be repaired or replaced. A temporary box will be placed at the address immediately and replacement mailboxes will be installed in the Spring when the ground has thawed. Replacement mailboxes consist of a standard bullet-style mailbox (black or white) and a standard wooden post.
That is actually very kind. I recently read that in other states like Maine for example, their DOT says if a snowplow damages or ruins your mailbox the homeowner is totally responsible. What’s worse, if the mailbox is not installed within the exact guidelines of the town and the plow hits it, the homeowner is liable for any damage caused to the plow! Really?
In New Jersey it varies from town to town…I’ve seen the offerings for damaged mailboxes vary from $50 to $250 and even NJ towns offering to do the physical replacement themselves. Again, this varies from town to town so check your local rules but this is one area where Jersey seems to be winning.
Just for good measure you should know that the US Postal Service standards state that the bottom of the mailbox should be between 41 and 45 inches above the road. Stay safe!
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