Public transit is a great source of transportation: it's convenient, economical, and most usually safe. Sometimes, though, accidents do happen, and when they do, they can be serious. Unlike auto accidents where you deal with private individuals, private entities, and/or insurance companies––public transit accidents involve a government entity. The rules are different. The claims process is different. And compensation may also be different. Much of it will depend on the jurisdiction where the accident occurred.
At Law Offices of Paul L. Schneiderman, we help our clients understand what is at stake, what their rights are, and what their legal options are. Our public transit accident attorney in Washington will guide you through the process so that there are no delays in recovering optimal compensation that the law will allow. Contact our office today at 206-464-1952 to schedule a free consultation and learn more.
Understanding Public Transit Accidents in Seattle
Public transit can be an environmentally friendly, cost-effective way to get around. However, there are risks inherent in every form of travel. Public transit accidents are any accident that involves some sort of public transit, including trains, subways, buses, and even airplanes. Because most forms of public transit naturally include large amounts of people, an accident can have potentially devastating outcomes.
As it is, public transit does not provide common safety features for passengers, like seatbelts, airbags, or other safety features that help prevent or reduce injuries when in a passenger vehicle. Further, mass transit vehicles, like trains, tend to perform at high speeds which can exacerbate injury when coupled with little or no safety features like seatbelts and there's an accident.
Unique Challenges of Washington State Public Transit Accidents
Public transit accidents present many unique legal challenges as opposed to an accident involving only passenger vehicles. For one, there are many types of public transit. Determining how to pursue a claim will be a vastly different process depending on what exact type of transit your accident occurred on.
Because there are many different types of transit, there are many ways that an accident can happen, and many different types of injuries that a victim might sustain. For example, the injury and resultant personal injury case will likely look a lot different for someone who has their hand slammed in a subway door than for someone who is injured when an airplane skids off of a runway.
Another challenge unique to public transit accidents is determining who is liable for your injuries. In order to be able to recover anything in a personal injury claim there must be a party to hold liable for those injuries, and this can be tricky to determine in public transit accidents. Many times, the party who is responsible for operating public transit will be the government, and trying to sue the government can present its own set of challenges.
Who's Liable for a Public Transit Accident in Washington State?
An important starting point for every personal injury lawsuit is determining who is responsible for your injuries, which determines who may be liable to pay cash damages. It could be, for example, the driver of the car who collides with the bus that you are on or it could be the driver of the bus.
Things can quickly become much more complicated in public transit accidents. For example, it could be that the entity responsible for your injuries is the manufacturer of a bus that broke down and caused an accident, in which case, filing a products liability claim against the manufacturer could be the solution.
In addition, it could be that the government entity that runs the transit system is actually at fault. In sum, any number of people or entities can be responsible for a mass transit accident in Washington, from the driver, the owner, the operator, or a government entity. Finding the cause of the accident will help you pinpoint who is liable––and it can be more than one party.
Common causes of mass transit accidents include:
- Driver negligence, like distractions, falling asleep or fatigue, inexperience, failure to follow the rules of the road (e.g., speeding, running red lights), drugs or alcohol impairment
- Failure to maintain vehicle maintenance
- Faulty or defective vehicle or parts
- Defectively designed or poorly maintained rails or roads
- Incorrect dispatching
- Inadequate security, lighting, or safety measures
- Lack of training and supervision
When a government is liable, they are typically protected by a concept known as sovereign immunity, which protects them from lawsuits.
How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer in Washington Help?
One of the most beneficial steps an accident victim can take after a public transit accident is to hire a personal injury lawyer. Given the complexity of public transit accidents and the extra steps that they can entail, including things like filing a notice of claim against government entities, a lawyer can ensure that your case is handled effectively and thoroughly.
Time is of the essence, though. Unlike personal injury claims against private entities where you may have a few years to file a claim or lawsuit (depending on the jurisdiction), you do not have that much time when suing a government entity. Usually, you have to file a notice of claim to the entity within 90 days––though the latter time frame may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
Contact a Public Transit Accident Attorney in Seattle Today
Our personal injury attorneys at Law Offices of Paul L. Schneiderman have helped others, and they can help you, too. Call us today at 206-464-1952, or simply fill out our online contact form and we will get started on your case right away.