Every day millions of Americans depend on buses, trains, taxis, and other forms of mass transit to get them where they need to go. Most people don’t consider the risk involved when taking these methods of transportation because accidents involving mass transit are not as common as automobile accidents. Still, the fact is that a mass transit accident can occur at any time or any place.
If you’ve been a victim of a mass transit accident, you have the right to fair compensation for your injuries. The attorneys at Raynes Lawn Hehmeyer will take on the public entities that oversee mass transit and help our clients get the compensation they deserve.
What are Mass Transit Accidents?
Mass transit is a mode of transportation designed to transport large amounts of people to various destinations.
The following modes of transportation are examples of mass transit:
- commuter trains
Because these modes of transportation often travel at high speeds, an accident can be devastating and result in fatalities and severe injuries for the passengers involved.
In 2017, The Bureau of Transportation Statistics listed the number of transportation accidents reported in the United States as:
- Airplane – 1,316
- Bus – 67,000
- Railroad -10,332
Why do People Use Mass Transit?
In many cases, mass transit is more convenient than driving a car, especially in highly populated urban areas. Mass transit offers an economical and convenient way of commuting to work, traveling long distances, or just getting around town.
There are many benefits to using mass transit. For example, commuter trains eliminate the stop and go traffic that is so common in cities. Trains also travel at higher speeds and often offer a more direct route to the final destination. While riding a train, passengers can also relax, study, work, or accomplish other tasks.
Types of Mass Transit Accidents we handle
Raynes Lawn Hehmeyer handles virtually every type of mass transit case. It may seem intimidating for victims to take on a large corporate company or government entity; however, our attorneys are able to go up against any parties who may be liable in your case, regardless of their size. Our attorneys can handle cases involving:
- Commuter Train Accidents
- Subway Accidents
- Bus Accidents
- Shuttle Accidents
- Taxicab Accidents
- Ride-Sharing Accidents
- Railroad Accidents
- Airplane Accidents
Common Causes of Mass Transit Accidents
While some accidents are unavoidable, most mass transit accidents are due to negligence.
Subway Accidents – Subway accidents may result from sudden stops, often due to an object or person who suddenly appears on the tracks. Subway cars may also be subject to derailment or collisions due to one or more trains being on the same track.
Bus Accidents – Since buses use the same roadways as other vehicles, bus accidents are usually similar to other automobile accidents. Collisions with other vehicles are the most common. However, there are many other ways that bus accidents can occur, including driving in hazardous conditions like snow or ice or having an irresponsible driver. For example, a bus driver decides to quickly check his phone while driving, even though it is against the law and company policy. His distraction causes him to run into a car stopped at a stoplight, resulting in injuries to several passengers. The bus company and driver may both be liable because the bus driver failed to pay attention.
Train Accidents –Train accidents often result in a derailment, often due to an employee failing to hit the switch to the right track or an operator traveling at high speeds. A train accident can also be caused by equipment failure, which may result in derailment. Train accidents can take place at railroad crossings when a car or person is on the tracks, and the driver doesn’t have enough time to stop or stops so abruptly that the passengers on the train are injured.
Other types of negligence that cause accidents can include alcohol or drug use, sleep deprivation, lack of proper equipment maintenance, and poor judgment.
Types of Injuries Suffered in Mass Transit Accidents
Several types of injuries can be sustained in a mass transit accident, ranging from cuts and bruises to severe bone fractures, crush injuries, dismemberment, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and internal bleeding. The most severe injuries may lead to a lifetime of paralysis, disabilities, cognitive impairment, or even death.
What Compensation Can Be Recovered in Mass Transit Accidents?
Passengers who are injured in a mass transit accident have the right to seek compensation for their injuries. The businesses or authorities that operate trains, subways, buses, taxis, airplanes, and other mass transit operations may be liable for the injuries caused by their employees’ negligence. To get compensation, however, you first must know if you have a valid claim.
It is essential to understand that any business that transports passengers is legally called a “common carrier.” The specific duties of common carriers are outlined by the appropriate authority of a regulatory body. Common carriers have a duty to exercise the highest degree of care to protect the lives of their passengers.
If the common carrier used “extraordinary diligence” in trying to ensure the safety of passengers, they will not be held liable. This is why you must prove the carrier was negligent by violating their duty to exercise the highest degree of care.
To prove negligence, the plaintiff must show all of the following:
- The defendant had a duty to exercise the highest degree of care in the safety of its passengers.
- The defendant breached that duty to exercise care in the safety of its passengers, resulting in injuries to the plaintiff.
- The breach of the duty was the proximate cause of the injury (if it weren’t for the defendant’s breach, then the injury would not have happened).
- The plaintiff suffered damages – typically physical injuries but may also include emotional distress and loss of wages.
How Does Evidence Weigh in a Mass Transit Accident Claim?
Evidence plays a crucial role in a mass transit accident claim. Here are some common types of evidence:
- Expert witness testimony – Expert witnesses are commonly used to explain how an injury had to have been caused by the carrier’s negligence. Alternatively, an expert witness may also be used by the defendant’s side to prove that they acted in a reasonable manner.
- Eyewitness testimony – If you can get eyewitness testimony from a fellow passenger, that is an excellent source of evidence. For example, a passenger may have witnessed a bus driver take a sip of alcohol from a flask before driving the bus. This shows that the bus driver acted in negligence by failing to operate a vehicle safely.
- Negligence per se – This type of evidence is when a carrier deliberately violates a law, resulting in passenger injuries.
- Photographs – Photographic images are commonly used as evidence to prove damages.
- Inspection records – Inspection records give insight as to whether or not the mechanical components were regularly inspected and maintained.
Who is liable for Mass Transit Accidents?
Who is responsible for injuries in a mass transit accident? Establishing liability can be difficult. It could be a driver/operator, but the party responsible might also be the manufacturer of a defective part or even the engineer who installed it. In some cases, the cause of an accident could be an Act of God (inclement weather or a natural disaster).
Various government agencies investigate mass transit accidents. There’s no single government agency that is designated to look into these accidents. However, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigates most mass transit accidents.
If you’ve been involved in a mass transit accident and have sustained serious injuries, you need an advocate who is looking out for your best interests. Our attorneys will investigate what happened, collect relevant evidence that will help your case, identify who should be held liable for the accident, and start gathering eyewitness statements immediately. As time passes, important facts are easily forgotten, especially with a serious injury. This is why it is critical to gather information as quickly as possible. Hiring an attorney as soon as possible will ease the stress of having to conquer the fact-finding process on your own.
Are There Compensatory Damages in Mass Transit Accidents?
Compensatory damages are available for victims of mass transit accidents in the form of:
- Medical costs
- Rehabilitation costs
- Lost income
- Physical pain and emotional suffering
- Permanent disability
In addition to compensatory damages, a train accident victim may have rights to punitive damages as well, depending on the extremity of the negligence. Punitive damages may be awarded in cases such as failure to inspect or maintain equipment or for operator impairment. These types of damages are designed to punish the guilty party and set an example as to why it’s important not to engage in misconduct.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with a Mass Transit Accident Lawsuit?
Injuries sustained in mass transit accidents are usually severe. All you should be focusing on is healing and getting better, which is why it is crucial to hire an attorney. The attorneys at Raynes Lawn Hehmeyer know how to investigate the facts of your case. We will work hard to prove any liability and get you the compensation that you may deserve.
Depending on who’s liable in your case, there are strict guidelines and limits on how long you have to bring a claim and how you must bring that claim. Our attorneys have a comprehensive understanding of transportation laws and how they will apply to your case.
The mass transit accident attorneys at Raynes Lawn Hehmeyer know how to get results. Fill out our contact form at rayneslaw.com today or call us at (800) 535-1797 to find out how we may be able to help you with your claim.
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