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Public Transit Attorney - The Injury Firm

In such a busy part of the world, public transit makes for a trusted and affordable method of travel. Whether for the locals or the tourists, it allows for quick journeys without having to worry about parking. These days, more people are using the public transit system thanks to increased interest and increased population. Although this is great news, it also makes incidents more common. Typically, the incidents are also more severe than car collisions due to the size of the vehicles involved (and the number of people involved).

‘Common Carriers’ - Either public or private, a common carrier is a mode of transport that takes people around town for a fee. Regulated by the state government, this includes both buses and trains and they’re used by millions every year. For workers, they commute on the bus or train every morning while children get to school on a school bus. With the responsibility on their shoulders, all public transit vehicles must be checked and maintained on a regular basis. Furthermore, the driver needs to be fit to be in control of the vehicle.

If we look at buses as an example, there are daily checks on the tires, engine, and fluids before a route is started in the morning. Each month, the vehicles should also be subjected to cleaning and inspection as mentioned previously. In terms of passengers, operators and owners have a duty of care from the moment they step on to the moment they step off the train or bus. With Common Carrier Laws now in place, the responsibility is higher than regular car owners.

Throughout the route, all designated stop-off points should be safe and clearly accessible. If there are dangers at any point during the route, the driver should keep the passengers informed. For all safety features in place, like handrails and seat belts, passengers should be made aware whether through signage or announcements.

Finally, we should also note instructions for safe travel since this is important. Unless there are no seats available, every passenger should be sitting down since the seating areas have been designed with safety in mind. For drivers, they should be trained, they should follow the laws of the road as learned within the training, and they’re limited in the amount of hours they work in a day and week so they remain alert at all times. When negligence or disobedience causes an accident, fines of up to $1,000 can be handed out.

Public Transit Accident Laws - In Florida, the vast majority of public transit vehicles are government-owned as they also operate the routes. When an accident occurs in one of these vehicles, the Florida Tort Claims Act suggests you can file a case just as you would normally. However, filing against the government requires more attention and care compared to filing against another road user. First and foremost, your claim needs to be made within four years of the accident.

Next, you should ensure you have the right department for the claim. If you file against the wrong agency, the case won’t even be entertained and you could be left with nowhere else to go. As a victim, the law also has restrictions on the amount of money you can claim which is important to remember. If your insurance company has paid out, they can also claim against the government entity to have the money returned.

Compared to personal injury claims, public transit claims will yield lower compensation because, although there’s a question of extent, compensation will never surpass $100,000. Therefore, as soon as you reach this limit, there’s no way of obtaining more regardless of how bad the injury may be.

Considerations in Public Transit Accidents - Compared to private vehicles, public transit accidents are generally more severe due to the size of the vehicles. With the fact you’re taking on a government agency, the lawsuit is also more complex and there are various considerations including insurance claims, extent of damage, and public transit laws.

With other travel-related injuries, Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance will come to the rescue but this isn't applicable with accidents inside a common carrier. If you’re traveling to work on the bus when the accident occurs, PIP insurance will not be accessible. If you’re a private vehicle on the road when struck by a bus, however, PIP will be available.

To build a lawsuit, the first step will always be determining liability and blame. These days, there are some common causes of public transit incidents and this includes;

  • Technical issues with the vehicle
  • Negligence, violence, or law violation of other passengers
  • Law violation or negligence of the common carrier
  • Poor safety and maintenance by the common carrier
  • Law violation or negligence of the driver or other road users
  • Poor equipment or lack of training for driver
  • Hazardous roads or tracks

At all times, the key to finding success with a lawsuit is gathering strong evidence. If you’ve been injured while on public transportation, make sure you keep all badges or tickets that tie you to the event. Furthermore, know the bus number, the time you got on (the time it arrived according to the schedule), and perhaps even a license plate. If you know others were injured in the accident, we advise getting in contact with them because a group lawsuit can be more powerful as opposed to several individuals claiming alone.

If you were in a private vehicle or a pedestrian on the sidewalk, get in contact with eyewitnesses and gain access to the CCTV footage. At the very least, you’ll need to know the operator and the type of public transit you used.

If you're a driver of a private vehicle as opposed to a passenger, the lawsuit will be a little more difficult because there’s a question of liability. This being said, the goal will always be the same and you need to find proof. Once this has been proven, it’s then a case of keeping medical receipts and hospital paperwork for any treatment you received.

Summary - With public transport vehicles being so large, they can lead to serious harm such as brain injuries, spinal injuries, paralysis, and disfigurement. Sadly, a certain percentage also lead to death. If the latter occurs, only family members of the deceased have the ability to claim compensation.

If you were in a private vehicle and you’ve had to pay to have the vehicle repaired, be sure to keep all your receipts for your claim. If there’s long-term damage that’ll need continual investment, you should also get a quote for this to include.

Whenever public transit is involved, we advise getting in touch with our wonderful personal injury team at The Injury Firm because we can help create the best case for YOUR situation. Rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach, we’ll always personalize our help to leave you in the strongest possible position for success!

The information contained in this website is provided for informational purposes only.  This website may contain information about The Injury Firm's past results, testimonials about the firm or a lawyer within the firm, and statements regarding the quality of The Injury Firm's work product. This information has not been reviewed or approved by The Florida Bar. Please be advised that: 1) the facts and circumstances of your case may differ from the matters for which results and testimonials have been provided: 2) Not all results of cases handled by the firm or its lawyers are provided and not all clients have given testimonials; and 3) The results and testimonials provided are not necessarily representative of results obtained by the firm or by its lawyers or of the experience of all clients or others within the firm or its lawyers. Every case is different, and each client’s case must be evaluated and handled on its own merits.