Public transportation accidents, and the legal claims they often result in, can be very complicated. Read on to learn more.
You may not realize just how may public transportation vehicles are on the road until you are suddenly involved in an accident with one. Buses, taxicabs, trolley cars, metro trains, trams, and ferry boats are all examples of public transportation. If you are involved in an accident while using public transportation, you may have many questions about how to seek compensation for your injuries. Is the driver responsible or the transportation company? What about the company responsible for track maintenance or other workers?
‘Common Carrier’ Law
A ‘common carrier’ is an old reference to any individual or business that operates a public transportation service. These services generally include trains, trolleys, buses, and taxis. Some states also include school buses or private limousine services. Regardless of which mode of public transportation you utilize, each one owes its patrons a certain degree of care.
In fact, some states declare that common carriers owe their passengers a higher level of care than the average person does. This is one difference between common carrier injury claims and those claims filed against individuals.
As drivers in our vehicles, we most likely converse and interact with passengers. Operators of common carrier vehicles, however, are forbidden to do so. The seemingly harmless distraction of talking with other people in the vehicle could cause an operator to miss an important traffic event, resulting in injury to his or her passengers.
In some states, patrons of common carriers do not necessarily have to be injured while in a moving vehicle to be entitled to file a claim. For instance, someone who trips and falls on the subway platform, or injured by a broken seat at the train station, might be eligible to file for damages.
Regardless of the type of claim, proof of negligence is key to a successful injury claim. It is no different when filing an injury claim against a common carrier. Assume you were injured on a bus after the driver suddenly slammed on the brakes. The reason for applying the brakes is paramount.
If a child is crossing the road and the driver applied the brakes abruptly and injured passengers because he or she was not paying attention, that driver could be negligent. If the driver is being attentive and obeying the speed limit, but still must apply the brakes suddenly to avoid a child who has chased a ball into the road, it is likely that driver would not be found negligent.
Statute of Limitations and Claim Procedure
Due to the nature of public transportation claims, State Tort Claims Acts apply. These acts typically reduce the amount of time afforded to an injured person when filing a claim. Additionally, giving notice to the wrong municipal department could prevent you from being able to file a claim.
It is imperative you consult with an experienced personal injury attorney immediately following your injury regarding these and other details concerning public transportation injury claims.