Public transportation comes in many forms. Buses and trains are perhaps the most common, followed by subways and streetcars. In nearly every city, you will find some kind of accessible option that moves people from point A to B. Unfortunately, while convenient, these modes of transportation can also be increasingly dangerous.
Due to their extended size to carry multiple passengers at a time, any type of accident with a public transportation vehicle can cause numerous injuries to the people inside. These proportions also mean that copious other people or cars could be involved in a collision. With a mounting number of victims, there could be grounds for a class action lawsuit. In addition, determining who’s at fault for public transit accidents can be challenging. That’s because many people contribute to the operation of these services.
Furthermore, bus and train station stops may be the cause of slips and falls, either due to improper maintenance or inclement weather conditions. Since so many possibilities for incidents can arrive regarding public transportation accidents, it is increasingly important that people remain vigilant and aware of their rights. There may be specifics surrounding the amount of time you have to file a case because it is on public property or because of different protections for those responsible. Working with an experienced personal injury lawyer can ensure you avoid the red tape and are compensated fairly.
Statistics on Public Transportation Accidents
There are fewer public transit accidents compared to motor vehicle accidents in Ontario, but that doesn’t mean they don’t happen. In 2019, 2,515 property damage claims were filed due to accidents involving buses in Ontario. Additionally, 649 people were injured, and five people died.
Train accidents are much less frequent, but there were still 32 incidents involving property damage, 32 injuries and four deaths in 2019. Even though there are fewer incidents involving public transit than auto accidents each year, the types of injuries people experience can be similar but, in some cases, much more severe.
Accidents Involving Personal Vehicles
When a bus collides with other vehicles, it may result in more significant property damage claims and serious injuries, even at lower speeds. This is because buses are much larger and more powerful vehicles than those used for personal transportation.
Bus drivers and train operators must be aware of the pedestrians at all times and do their best to operate their vehicles safely to avoid harming people crossing the street or using train platforms.
If a pedestrian is struck by any kind of vehicle, including a mode of public transportation, they have access to statutory accident benefits provided by their auto insurance policy, regardless of who is at fault for the accident. They are entitled to accident benefits in the form of medical and rehabilitation benefits and partially lost income if they are unable to work. An injured pedestrian could also file a tort claim against the driver who hit them to recover damages not covered by their accident benefits coverage.
Passengers can be injured when a train or bus is involved in an accident. They may be able to claim damages, especially if they can prove that the bus driver or train operator acted negligently.
Possible Injuries Resulting from a Public Transportation Accident
If you or a loved one are victims of a public transportation accident, your injuries may differ even if you were both inside the bus or train. Where you were sitting in relation to the impact of the crash may have intense effects on the body. While whiplash is common, it’s not unheard of for this injury to worsen over time, leaving you with constant strained movements of your neck and head. This may mask brain injuries resulting from concussions and ongoing pressure prohibiting normal mental functions. In extreme cases, spinal cord injuries can cause paralysis and continued difficulties with mobility. Psychological issues can sometimes be overlooked in the wake of more critical physical injuries, but make no mistake; they have just as significant an impact as visible wounds.
Healing from These Types of Accidents
Recovery is a delicate process. More often than not, no two injuries are the same. Each will require a team of medical specialists to design a plan to adequately address what has happened and start you on your healing journey. In the meantime, you may need ongoing support with day-to-day tasks while you regain strength. Perhaps you’ll need this kind of care for the rest of your life. Your career will likely have to be put on hold or altered completely, depending on the line of work you are in. In addition, some medications and therapies are not covered under certain health insurance plans, leaving you to pay out of pocket and without the means to do so.
Determining Public Transit Accident Liability
Litigating a public transit accident can be more complicated due to the numerous parties involved. There may be multiple victims and more than one responsible party. It may result in a class action lawsuit, where one or a few plaintiffs represents a larger group of people and sues a defendant or group of defendants based on what collectively happened to them. These legal cases can get complicated, so it’s important to speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible after your accident.
Depending on the circumstances, the following parties may be held liable.
The city transit authority or department that oversees the operation of public buses and trains might be liable for an accident if they didn’t take appropriate measures to ensure public safety. This can include enforcing safety protocols, performing routine vehicle maintenance, and providing safety devices for passengers using trains and buses.
If another company employs operators or owns the vehicles used for public transportation, that company might be liable for an accident. Victims need to prove that the company acted negligently. For example, this could be arguing that safety rules were not enforced knowingly operating poorly maintained vehicles or not taking disciplinary action against unsafe operators.
In some lawsuits, the person driving or operating the bus or train involved may be named a defendant. This is more common when most of the fault rests with the operator’s behaviour rather than mechanical problems or maintenance issues.
Understanding Your Rights After a Public Transportation Accident
At Bergeron Clifford, we have dealt with many cases regarding public transportation accidents. Whether you are a part of a class action lawsuit or going it alone, our team can help enhance your case to ensure the best possible results. Unfortunately, many aspects of this type of claim discourage people from pursuing them, whether that be uncertainty around your rights or fear of losing your case.
However, with an experienced and confident legal professional at your side, you can have the peace of mind that your claim will be fortified with details that will make all the difference. Our team will work with you to fully understand the impact this accident had on your life and ensure you get the compensation needed to live as close to how you once did. To learn more about our process, contact us.
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