Public transportation comes in numerous different forms. Because there are so many different forms of public transportation, the number of personal injuries that occur on public transit has increased.
Public transportation includes any mode of transportation that is owned or operated by a city or by a government agency that is for the use of members of the general public. Common examples of public transportation include:
- Public buses;
- Public ferries;
- Subways; and
Under federal laws, a bus is defined as a vehicle that is capable of carrying ten or more passengers. The laws that govern buses that are owned by the government are different from the laws that govern privately owned transportation such as helicopters and boats.
Public transportation can include types of mass transit. Mass transit includes vehicles or vehicle lines that transport a large number of individuals at the same time, typically for the purpose of commuting.
Examples of mass transit may include:
- Monorails or other similar lines;
- Ferries; or
- In certain instances, bus lines.
Mass transit is usually associated with public transportation rather than private use, such as, for example, a party bus.
Do the Drivers of Public Transportation have a Duty?
Yes, a driver of public transportation has a number of duties and responsibilities. Failure to uphold these responsibilities may result in injuries to passengers or pedestrians.
Some of the responsibilities of a public transportation driver may be more important than others. Because of this, a driver must make sure to exercise proper and reasonable judgment to ensure safety at all times.
Public transit driver responsibilities may include, but are not limited to:
- Aiding any elderly or disabled passengers;
- Maintaining vehicles properly;
- Maintaining equipment properly;
- Keeping vehicles clean;
- Keeping a regular schedule;
- Releasing passengers safely;
- Releasing passengers close to their destinations; and
- Driving the vehicle in a safe manner.
The responsibilities of a public transportation driver establish obligations to many different individuals. Although the driver is obligated to take care of their passengers, they also have a duty to protect pedestrians, even when those pedestrians are not their passengers.
What are Public Transportation Injuries?
It is fairly common for an injury to occur on public transportation, such as a bus. An injury that is sustained on public transportation is similar to other types of car accidents in which the vehicle is insured for the injuries that it may cause.
Therefore, in order to recover for their injuries, the majority of individuals must sue under the legal theory of negligence. In other words, the injured party must claim the driver failed to exercise reasonable care.
What are Mass Transit Accidents?
Mass transit includes vehicles or vehicle lines that transport large numbers of individuals at one time, typically for commuting purposes. Mass transit, as noted above, is typically associated with public transportation instead of with private use, for example, party buses.
Because of this public element, a mass transit accident can involve unique liabilities.
What are Some Examples of Mass Transit Accidents?
A mass transit accident can be very serious because of several factors, including the large size of the transport vehicle as well as the high number of passengers involved. Common examples of mass transit accidents include:
- Vehicle-on-vehicle collisions;
- Derailing of a train or other similar type of vehicle;
- Explosions or other engine or mechanical malfunctions; and
- Electrical issues and electrocution.
Specifically, a high-speed collision can be especially dangerous. The injuries that occur in a mass transit accident may also include:
- Spine or neck injuries;
- Head injuries; and
- Other similar physical issues.
Do I have to be an Actual Passenger?
No, an individual does not have to be an actual passenger. An injury may occur to a pedestrian that is not a passenger in a public transportation vehicle.
For example, a public transportation bus can hit a pedestrian in an intersection through no fault of the individual walking. If a bus driver is found to have driven recklessly or negligently, an individual can bring a personal injury lawsuit against the owner of the vehicle.
What Steps Should I Take if I am Injured While Riding Public Transportation?
An individual may take certain steps to improve their chances of recovering for injuries they suffer. Similar to any other type of accident that involves a motor vehicle, an individual should gather the following information if they are involved in an accident:
- The names and badge numbers of any drivers that were involved in the accident;
- The names and contact information of any witnesses that saw the accident; and
- Retain any hospital records from treatment.
Can I Sue the Driver?
Yes, it may be possible for an injured individual to sue a driver. However, it may be more advantageous to sue their employer.
This is due to the fact that the employer, in most cases, will have more money than the driver, which will provide a larger monetary award for the individual’s injuries. It is important to note that, if the court finds that a driver was acting outside the scope of their employment at the time of the accident, the employer may not be held liable.
Examples may include when the driver is taking an unscheduled break or reporting to work while they are intoxicated. In these types of cases, an individual would have to sue the driver and recover from the driver’s insurance coverage.
Can I Sue the Government?
Generally, an individual is able to sue the government for wrongful death if the city or other government agency was negligent. Until recently, many government entities had immunity from lawsuits, so it was not possible for an injured individual to sue the government entity.
Currently, it is possible for an individual to sue a government entity for the injuries or damages that were caused by negligence. It is important to note that the federal government, states, and cities have their own specific requirements for bringing a lawsuit against them.
In order to file a claim against the government, an individual will be required to provide notice prior to suing the government entity for personal injury. Government entities likely have specific time periods in which they can settle the case with the injured individual.
Are There any Legal Remedies for a Mass Transit Accident?
There are many parties that may be held legally liable for a mass transit accident. This may include:
- Operators of the vehicles;
- The manufacturers or producers of vehicles and vehicle parts;
- Safety inspectors; and
- Other parties.
Liability is commonly based on certain legal theories, including negligence. The remedy for a mass transit accident typically involves a monetary damages award.
These awards are intended to cover costs such as:
- Medical bills;
- Hospital bills;
- Any property damage; and
- Other financial losses.
As previously noted, a mass transit accident may involve large numbers of individuals who are injured. In these types of cases, a class action lawsuit may be appropriate to consolidate the claims of individuals into one legal proceeding.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with a Mass Transit Accident Lawsuit?
A mass transit accident and the injuries that occur can be very serious and involve numerous individuals. If you have been injured in a mass transit accident, it may be helpful to consult with a personal injury lawyer in your area if you or a loved one needs legal representation.
Your lawyer can provide you with legal research and guidance. In addition, if you have to attend any court meetings or sessions, your lawyer will be on hand to guide you through those processes.