Public Transportation has been growing by leaps and bounds due to the convenience and cost savings involved. No need to fight the congested highways or pay the high expenses related to automobile ownership. However, accidents involving buses, airplanes, trains, taxis and other public transportation methods have increased proportionately, often involving severe injuries.
If you were injured while taking public transportation, including buses, you may wonder if you are entitled to any bus accident compensation for your injuries. You may also want to know how to make a claim against a bus company or other public transit entity, like the MBTA, PVTA Amtrak or an Airline. Below you will find some useful information that should provide some answers.
Can I Sue in Court to Recover Damages for My Injuries?
If you were injured by a public transportation vehicle or agency in Massachusetts, you may be entitled to recover compensation from a legal claim against the bus company or public transit authority that runs, owns, and operates it if there is provable negligence on their part. Negligence and causes of accidents can come in many forms, such as:
- Improper driving or operation of the vehicle.
- Driver fatigue.
- Inadequate training.
- Defective parts and mechanical failure.
- Mistakes or errors made in the operation or maintenance of the vehicle.
- Failure to take proper safety precautions.
Suing Public Transportation Entities Can Be Complicated
Because most public transportation is operated by governmental entities, such as public transportation bureaus, municipalities, or school districts, filing a claim or lawsuit can be more complicated than the average negligence injury claim. There are more hoops to jump through and special requirements to be aware of to ensure your case can proceed and be successful. Learning how to make a claim against a bus company can be useful.
City bus accident settlements and other public transit settlements are often offered to prevent an expensive lawsuit. If the insurance company for the operating entity denies your claim or fails to provide an adequate settlement, you will need to file a claim against the government entity or company that you believe is liable for your damages, and there are strict time limits and notice requirements to do so. The process is unique and requires certain procedural compliance or your case could be dismissed.
The most important first step is to get the medical help for your injuries, because your health is the most important thing. In this way, your heath is the main priority, but later you can present your medical records and bills to prove the severity of any injury claim you may make because of the accident.
Common Carriers are Held to a Higher Standard
A “common carrier” is legally considered to be any entity that transports people or property from one place to another. This includes all public transportation methods available. Common carriers are held to a higher legal standard of care than others because they are responsible for the ultimate safety of all their passengers.
You would still need to prove that the driver, operator, or transit authority was negligent, which caused the accident and your injuries, to recover damages from them. However, it could be an easier task to prove negligence if they failed to meet this higher standard of care required of them. That would be of benefit to your case, and you just may be able to reach a fair settlement in lieu of filing a lawsuit and get the financial help you need much faster.
When and How Do I File a Claim?
Since most public transportation companies are operated by state or municipal agencies, special state laws, such as the State Tort Claims Act, are normally applicable for claims brought against these public entities. Usually, there are strict guidelines specified for filing negligence and injury claims against public transportation companies and other governmental agencies.
To make sure that you satisfy all the complex Massachusetts claim and filing requirements, you should contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after an accident to protect your rights.
What Will an Attorney Try to Discover to Help Win Your Case?
First, your attorney will interview you and any witnesses as soon as possible to find out what occurred and what was witnessed before memories fade. It is important that you try to take photographs of the accident scene and any injuries you may have sustained, as this can be very valuable evidence. You should also document as many facts as possible and get witnesses names and contact information, so they can be called to verify the facts of the case.
Your attorneys will also conduct an investigation to try to uncover what really happened, even if the other side is less than forthcoming or is trying to hide any facts that could cause them to be liable for negligence.
Public transit operators and governmental agencies will often have a team of attorneys on their side to protect them, so you will need all the advantages you can gain to get the compensation and medical help you deserve and are entitled to under law.
Your attorney will dig deep and attempt to get answers to some very important questions, such as:
- Was the company negligent for hiring the driver who caused your injuries (Were they adequately screened)?
- What was the accident history, driving record and accident history of the driver?
- Was the driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the accident?
- Was the driver overly fatigued or using electronic devices during or directly prior to the accident?
- Did illegal high speed or dangerously fast turns contribute to causation?
- Was there proper maintenance and care of the transit vehicle?
- Did preventable mechanical problems contribute to the accident?
- What types and cash limits of insurance policies are available to seek recovery from?
Your attorney will review what was discovered and all relevant information related to the accident and your injuries, including police and internal reports, witness statements, and all information gathered from investigations and trial experts. These types of legal questions, witness interviews, fact finding, and investigations will often provide the solid evidence your attorney needs to prepare a successful claim against the transit company or authority on your behalf.
Types of Damages That Are Compensable
Below are some examples of items and injuries you may be compensated for if you are injured on or by a public transportation vehicle:
- Pain and suffering.
- Medical bills and related expenses.
- Lost wages or income due to the accident or injuries.
- Damages to your vehicle or other owned property.
- Long term nursing care.
- Disability injury claims.
- Emotional distress.
- Loss of companionship and support in cases of wrongful death.
Public transport and city bus accident settlements may be made in advance of trial due to the standard of care that is required of them. Bus accident compensation and other mass transit injury compensation can still be sought in court if a settlement is not forthcoming.
Can Family Members Sue Due to the Death of a Loved One?
Yes, just like with the more typical fatal vehicular accident, close family members of public transit accident victims in Massachusetts can file a claim for wrongful death. They can be entitled to request monetary compensation for the death of their loved one, depending on their specific relationship with the deceased.