Everyone on the road potentially faces serious accidents. While being involved in a car accident can leave victims stunned and unsure of their next steps, accidents involving public transit vehicles compound this confusion. If you’ve suffered an injury from a public transit accident such as a bus, train, or subway, it’s vital to know your options for legal recourse. You’ll also need to secure representation from a qualified attorney, as public transit accidents operate differently than typical car crashes.
Any entity that conducts business by transporting people or goods between places is a common carrier under the law. Common carriers are legally responsible for the safety of all their passengers, and thus the law considers them as having a higher duty of care than other motorists. When you get in a car accident with a negligent driver, you must prove the other driver acted in a way that is inconsistent with what a reasonable person would have done in the same situation.
After a public transit accident, you must prove the carrier acted in a manner inconsistent with what a reasonably careful operator would have done in the same situation. In many cases, proving the carrier failed to meet the standard of a “reasonably careful operator” is enough to establish negligence. Additionally, your attorney must determine whether the carrier is a private or government entity, as the rules for engaging either in a lawsuit vary greatly.
Many public transportation entities operate under government direction and receive tax-based funding. If your accident involved such a carrier, your attorney must navigate the local tort claims acts for filing claims against government agencies. These rules typically dictate the statute of limitations or time limit you must file a claim. Additionally, the process for filing notices of claims or other documentation to progress these lawsuits fall under very strict deadlines. Some local governments also have caps on the amount of damages you can potentially recover from a lawsuit against a government agency.
If you suffer serious injuries or damages from a public transit accident, you may need to navigate complex legal issues to secure compensation. Most traffic accidents cause broken bones, lacerations, blunt force trauma wounds, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, burns, crushing injuries, and many more possibilities. On a common carrier transporting several people at once, the additional passengers and larger size of most common carrier vehicles compound the dangers of a typical car crash and open a host of other potential hazards.
It’s also important to note that you can suffer damages or injuries from a common carrier even if you are not a passenger. For example, if a city bus runs a red light or fails to properly signal and hits you while walking or while in your car, you would need to familiarize yourself with common carrier laws to file the appropriate legal action.
Common carriers must ensure every one of their vehicles meets all safety regulations and standards. Failing this, a mechanical flaw or defective part could put passengers’ lives in jeopardy. Additionally, all crew members and individual operators should complete the necessary training before transporting passengers. Negligent or poorly trained crew members can easily cause serious accidents, shifting liability to the carrier.
One of the best assets to have on your side after a public transit accident is a qualified and experienced attorney. While a civil action against a private carrier is typically straightforward, filing a claim against a government carrier is very complex and necessitates decisive, timely action. Take your time and find an attorney with a track record of success in public transit accident cases to increase your chances of reaching a positive result.