If you’ve lived in southeastern Pennsylvania for any amount of time, then you’re almost certainly familiar with SEPTA and their fleet of public transportation vehicles.
Indeed, thousands of people each day rely on SEPTA buses to get to work and to complete their day-to-day tasks in a timely manner. Even some tourists to the Philadelphia area utilize SEPTA’s transportation options to move about the city with ease.
There’s no question that SEPTA is invaluable in terms of keeping citizens in the Philadelphia area on the move. But that doesn’t SEPTA is perfect, by any means.
In fact, SEPTA has a considerable history with accidents involving both riders and pedestrians. As such, it only makes sense that more folks are wondering if SEPTA can be held liable for an accident involving one of their vehicles.
While it is true that claims can be filed against SEPTA when an accident occurs, the reality of actually doing so is a bit more complicated than it appears.
This guide will help you understand this claims process better while also helping you understand the potential causes a SEPTA trolley bus accident. This guide will also help you discover where to file a properly certified claim against SEPTA.
Of course, filing a claim against SEPTA does not ensure that you’ll obtain the compensation that you deserve. In fact, if SEPTA’s track record has anything to say about it, you may have to make multiple claims or threaten litigation if your claims are continuously ignored. Should you find yourself in this situation, be sure to reach out to the Law Offices of Joel J. Kofsky. Their team of skilled SEPTA accident lawyers know just what to do to help your claim succeed in court.
Who is SEPTA? Can I Sue Them or File a Claim Against Them?
Before we go too far, let’s take a moment to understand precisely who SEPTA is. Though they are primarily known today by their abbreviated name, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority came into existence in 1963 by an act of the state legislature. One of their primary tasks at the time of their creation was to better streamline commuter rail services in the region. Today, they are the 6th-largest rapid transit system in the US by ridership, making its importance to the region’s citizens noteworthy.
While SEPTA’s buses are among the most visible parts of their fleet, they also operate an assortment of other transportation methods in various southeastern Pennsylvania cities. For example, many commuters in and around Philadelphia rely on their commuter rail trains and subway trains each and every day. SEPTA also operates trolley buses and standard trolleys in select cities, which provides further transportation options to citizens and tourists alike.
As noted, SEPTA was originally created as a partial government entity. This is still the case today, with SEPTA’s governing board being composed of mayors and appointed representative from the state’s legislature and Governor’s office. As a result, SEPTA’s services are generally public in nature. This operational structure does add some complications to the process of filing a claim against them.
Under Pennsylvania state law (such as the Pennsylvania Tort Claims Act), some government entities are given immunity from liability when it comes to lawsuits. This includes SEPTA, who cannot be sued in court except for in situations where their liability goes beyond the limits of the state-granted immunity. These exceptions are codified here in 42 Pa. C.S. § 5522.
However, it can be challenging to have your claim recognized under one of these limited exceptions. In fact, any case that tries to pin liability on SEPTA will have to narrowly demonstrate the Authority’s failure to abide by safety regulations, thus leading to an accident. This kind of liability can be imposed upon individual company employees as well as larger management groups (such as in cases where poor maintenance lead to an accident).
What are the Potential Causes of a SEPTA Trolley Bus Accident?
While it’s true that you may have recently been involved in a SEPTA trolley bus accident, you may not know how or why that accident occurred in the first place. However, if you plan to seek compensation, you and your personal injury lawyer will need to fully understand the circumstances that lead to the accident in question. These are just a few potential causes that you should look into before filing a claim against SEPTA.
While most SEPTA drivers do an admirable job from day to day, some may not be at their best when they are behind the wheel of a trolley bus. This can lead to an accident for any number of driver-related reasons.
For example, an overly fatigued driver may not respond fast enough to an incoming hazard, leading to a crash. A distracted trolley bus driver may result in a similar kind of accident that leads to passenger and/or pedestrian injury.
Poor weather conditions can also be a contributing factor to a trolley bus accident. While adverse weather cannot be prevented by SEPTA, they do still have a duty to maintain their vehicles in a condition that is safe and secure at all times. As such, a mechanical failure (such as a set of brakes failing) in the rain could be a source of liability if that mechanical part was improperly maintained.
As you might expect, there are also several kinds of errors in the operation of a trolley bus that can cause it to crash or otherwise precipitate an accident. If, for example, a trolley bus is found to be speeding at the time it crashes or causes an accident, that is likely to precipitate liability for SEPTA. The same goes for turning errors, which may similarly cause SEPTA to become liable for a driver’s error.
What Should I do after a SEPTA Accident?
In the wake of a SEPTA accident, you may be turning your thoughts towards filing a claim for financial compensation. That’s a worthwhile plan of action, so long as you have a skilled injury lawyer supporting your efforts.
However, you may not get far in the claims process unless you are ready to supply the kind of information SEPTA requires from you. That’s why you should always record the following information as soon as possible after being involved in an accident on a SEPTA vehicle:
• Vehicle number and type
• Driver’s name and badge number
• Witness names, addresses, and contact information
• Weather conditions at the time of the accident
• Any suspected cause of the accident
• Photos depicting the accident site, or any injuries suffered
Once you have this information, do not wait to file a claim against SEPTA. This is because SEPTA’s limited liability after an accident comes with a restrictive expiration time period. In most cases, you will only have 6 months from the date of the accident to file a claim. Otherwise, SEPTA may be able to fully deny your claim, even if it is otherwise justified.
Also, it is absolutely critical that you be given a SEPTA incident card immediately after an accident takes place in which you are a victim. Whether or not you are seriously injured, SEPTA must provide you with this type of documentation to prove that you were a rider, or a pedestrian affected by a particular recent accident. Without this, SEPTA will not accept any claim from you, even if you are able to provide other kinds of supporting evidence.
Where Do I Report a SEPTA Accident?
Making a claim against SEPTA in the wake of an accident can be a challenge for a number of reasons. Not least among these reasons is how well SEPTA has hidden their official claims web forms, which can be found here. Currently, this is the best and most effective way to have your claims for compensation heard by SEPTA in a timely manner.
As you’ll see from visiting this web form, you’ll need a lot of information to successfully file a claim with SEPTA. Some of this information is generalized (as described in the above section), while other pieces of information will be specific to the situation surrounding your accident and your injuries. Should you need help filing out this form, a SEPTA accident lawyer in your area may be able to lend you some assistance.
How do I file a SEPTA claim ?
If you’ve wondered if you’ll be able to file a liability claim against SEPTA, then the answer should now be clear. Not only can you file a claim of this kind, but also you should file a claim of this kind to obtain the compensation that you deserve. Regardless of the cause of your SEPTA accident, you have a right to seek compensation – so long as you follow the proper guidelines for doing so, that is.
If you still don’t feel fully prepared to file a claim against SEPTA, that is okay. The professionals at the Law Offices of Joel J. Kofsky are here for you. Their team of seasoned accident lawyers can help you structure your case as well as get your claim information in order. If your case goes to trial, they can also represent you and ensure that your interests are protected throughout the litigation process.