There are many different forms of public transportation. Many of these modes of transportation are owned or operated by a city or another government agency for the use of the general public.
Common examples of public transportation include:
- Public buses;
- Public ferries;
- Subways; and
Public transportation may also include mass transit. Mass transit vehicles are vehicles or vehicle lines that transport a large number of individuals at one time, typically for the purpose of commuting.
- Mass transit vehicles may include:
- Monorails or other similar lines;
- Ferries; or
- In certain instances, bus lines.
Mass transit is usually associated with public transportation instead of private use, for example, a party bus.
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 accidents involving vehicles where the vehicle is insured for injuries that it may cause.
Therefore, in order to recover for injuries, most individuals are required to sue under the legal theory of negligence, as noted above. In other words, they must claim that the driver failed to exercise reasonable care.
Do the Drivers of Public Transportation Have a Duty?
Individuals who drive public transportation vehicles have a number of duties and responsibilities. If they fail to uphold these responsibilities, it may result in injuries to passengers or pedestrians.
Some responsibilities may be more important than others. Therefore, the driver must be careful to exercise reasonable judgment to ensure safety of passengers at all times.
The responsibilities of a public transportation driver 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 a number of individuals. Although drivers are obligated to take care of their passengers, they are also obligated to protect pedestrians, even if those pedestrians are not their passengers.
What is Common Carrier Law?
If an individual is injured while on public transportation, they may be entitled to make a claim against the public transportation company that runs the transport line. The majority of personal injury cases are based on the rules of negligence, meaning that the injured individual must prove that the defendant was negligent in order to win their case.
Public transportation companies in some states are also subject to common carrier laws. Common carrier is the legal term for individuals or businesses that provide public transportation.
This typically includes public:
- Taxis; and
In some states, a common carrier owes their passengers a higher degree of care than the average individual does. An injured individual must still prove that the public transportation company was negligent in order to prevail.
In many states, a common carrier is said to owe its passengers the highest degree of care to provide safe methods of transportation. It is the duty of a common carrier to act reasonably and take care of its passengers
This duty is greater than the average individual’s duty to act reasonably. In certain states, common carrier law only applies to injuries which occur in the course of the common carrier’s operation of the vehicle.
However, in other states, a common carrier owes this higher duty of care in all circumstances, even if an individual slips and falls in the strain station or is injured on a broken bench on a subway.
One example of this higher duty of care is that when a regular individual drives, they may talk to their passengers. A common carrier driver, however, may not be permitted to speak to their passengers while the vehicle is operating so they are not the slightest bit negligent while operating the vehicle.
What are Trolley Accidents?
A trolley is a streetcar that runs on tracks and is powered electrically by electric currents from overhead wires. A trolley may consist of shorter carriages that consist of only a few cars or they may have many cars and approach the length of a longer train.
Trolleys, however, tend to travel at a slower speed than a train or other forms of public transportation. A trolley accident may involve some of the same factors and issues as a train accident, including:
- Collisions with motor vehicles;
- Collisions with pedestrians or bicyclists;
- Trolley car derailments;
- Injuries inside the trolley cars;
- Accidents related to track or electricity malfunctions;
- Injuries related to the electric power involved in the trolley’s operation; and
- Various other injuries.
Who Can be Held Liable for a Trolley Accident or Injury?
In some cases, a trolley accident is caused by the negligent maintenance, or upkeep, of the:
- Electric power instruments; or
- Other aspects of the system.
In these types of cases, the agency that is responsible for safety checks may be held liable for an accident. Responsible agencies typically include:
- City management;
- City transportation services; or
- Other similar agencies.
One example of this issue is where a city fails to conduct proper checks or brakes or braking implements for the cars and their failure causes an accident. In certain cases, a motorist on the road may be held responsible for accidents that are caused by their negligence.
For example, if a driver’s negligent or reckless driving causes another driver to have an accident with a trolley, the negligent driver may be held liable for some of the damages that occurred as a result of the accident.
The manufacturer or trolley parts of materials used in a trolley may also be held liable if that defective product is involved in an accident. An example of this is when a trolley part does not meet industry safety standards for public transportation vehicles.
Do I Have to be an Actual Passenger?
No, an injury may occur to a pedestrian who is not a passenger in the public transportation vehicle. For example, a public transportation bus may hit a pedestrian in an intersection through no fault of the pedestrian.
If the bus driver is found to have driven negligently or recklessly, an individual may 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 their injuries sustained while riding public transportation. Similar to any other type of accident that involves a motor vehicle, an individual should gather certain information, including:
- The names and badge numbers of any other 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.
Are There any Legal Remedies for a Trolley Accident?
A trolley accident may involve complex personal injury laws and may require legal action to resolve a dispute. Legal remedies in a trolley accident lawsuit typically include some type of monetary damages award, which is issued to the non-liable party.
This monetary damages award will typically be sufficient to cover the losses of the injured party such as medical expenses and hospital bills. The award may also cover related expenses, such as property damage and lost wages resulting from missing work due to the injury.
Trolley actions that involve injuries to multiple individuals may also result in a class action lawsuit against either the trolley company or the liable party.
Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help with a Trolley Accident Legal Claim?
A trolley accident injury can be very serious and often requires the assistance of a lawyer. It may be helpful to hire a personal injury lawyer if you need assistance with a lawsuit.
Your lawyer can provide you with legal advice and can represent you during meetings, hearings, and at trial. It is common for a personal injury lawsuit to settle outside of court.
Your lawyer can represent you during negotiations with the defendant to ensure that their settlement offer is fair and will adequately compensate you for your losses.