The great state of New Jersey has one of the most comprehensive mass transit systems in the country. Millions of New Jersey residents take advantage of our train and bus networks every day to traverse our state and, for the most part, these systems are safe, dependable, affordable, and environmentally friendly. Riding mass transit is statistically much safer than driving on highways in the United States. However, mass transit accidents still happen and people get hurt sometimes due to the negligence of transit operators. If you have been injured in a mass transit accident, here are a few things you should know regarding mass transit accident liability.
Liability and Mass Transit Accidents
If a transit operator doesn’t follow required safety laws or precautions, this negligence puts many people in danger. In accidents involving buses and trains, many people can be exposed to a variety of dangers, so mass transit accidents can result in multiple injuries or even fatalities. Due to the fact that mass transit operators are responsible for the safety of so many people, laws have been put into place to ensure the safety of mass transit riders. In the state of New Jersey, public transportation companies are required to remain in accordance with “common carrier” laws, meaning they must provide passengers with the highest level of care and protect them from reasonably foreseeable dangers. In other words, public transportation companies and their employees are held to a higher standard than everyday drivers.
Determining mass transit accident liability requires proving that the transit company was legally negligent, meaning they didn’t follow the proper safety laws and protocols, and that this negligence directly caused the person’s injury. Commercial transit companies, like Greyhound and Red Coach Bus, also provide a form of personal injury protection known as Medical Expense Benefits Coverage, which can be used to cover medical expenses and treatment, but not pain or suffering unless an injury is deemed “life altering.” In addition, New Jersey follows a modified comparative negligence law, meaning that an injured person cannot receive compensation for damages if they are found to be more at fault than the opposing party for their injuries.
Mass transit accidents can result from the negligence of many different people and entities other than the transportation company itself, and these other parties may be liable. In the case of a bus accident, for instance, the bus company, the driver, the bus manufacturer, a third party, or even the municipality or state government may be liable depending on the situation. If the bus or train accident is the result of negligence by a municipality or a state agency, the situation is more complicated. The New Jersey Tort Claims Act does allow seriously injured victims to sue municipalities and public agencies, but the claim must be filed within 90 days of the incident.
Bus Accidents vs Train Accidents
Buses and trains face different risk factors in regard to accidents. Buses share the roads with commercial trucks and private cars and are therefore susceptible to the same risks as anyone who frequents New Jersey roads. Trains, on the other hand, by definition have their own dedicated tracks and are statistically much safer than buses. However, accidents still occur on both modes of transportation and neither of them consistently feature seat belts. Buses can get involved in crashes, and passengers can also be injured by sudden stops and starts or by being let off the bus in an unsafe part of the road. Train passengers can also be injured if a train travels too fast around curves, starts or stops jarringly, or in the rare case of a derailment.
Passengers of both buses and trains can also be vulnerable to slip-and-falls inside vehicles or even in stations. If you are injured during any mass transit accidents, seek medical attention immediately, document all details involving the incident, avoid speaking with public transportation officials, and contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
The Law Offices of Andrew S. Maze Can Help After a Mass Transit Accident
If you or a family member have suffered an injury because of the negligence of a mass transit operator, you need excellent legal representation. Our attorneys have extensive experience helping victims of mass transit accidents receive their legal benefits. Please contact The Law Offices of Andrew S. Maze so that we can give you the high-quality legal counsel you need and deserve.