Who is Liable when a Bus has an Accident ?
Many people rely on buses each and every day. Even if you do not use a bus to get to work, perhaps your children use a bus to get to and from school. For travel, some people look to charter buses as a more affordable alternative to flying or a more convenient and stress-free alternative to driving themselves. But, what happens when the bus that you are riding on or have entrusted to get your children to school each morning has an accident? If you are injured, can you receive damages and who has liability?
Buses, whether they are owned by a company or run by a state or town government (such as most school buses), fall under common carrier law because they offer a transportation service to people. Common carriers are any company or organization that supplies transportation to individuals or goods for a price.
Common carriers abide by laws that differ from state to state and sometimes even town to town. If a carrier is transporting property or people across multiple states, then the federal government is the primary regulator of common carrier law in this case. At the federal level, common carrier regulation falls under the Interstate Commerce Act and its 1935 amendment through the Motor Carrier Act.
Because of their size and precious cargo of passengers, operators of buses have a broad legal responsibility to show an extremely high level of care and safety when driving. You have a similar duty of attention when you are driving your car, but bus drivers have to take on an added level of care and concern for not only the road and other drivers but also the well-being of the passengers on board. An accident involving a bus follows a lot of the same processes as a typical car accident case would. All involved parties and available witnesses provide their testimonies to determine whose negligence caused the crash. Sometimes, there is more than one party at fault. When a bus driver is responsible for the oversight, the penalties can be much more severe for the driver, or his/her carrier company, because of the higher duty of care expected of them as a transporter of passengers.
Recovering Compensation Following a Bus Accident
If you are a passenger on a bus that is involved in an accident and you sustain injuries, it is important to know how to recover damages and from whom, as liability can sometimes be difficult to discern in these situations.If the accident is caused by the negligence of the bus driver, the drivers carrier company will often assume liability. It is their responsibility to properly train their drivers and perform the necessary background checks to ensure that they are a safe and responsible person, which is why the liability is on them, instead of the driver.
This is not always the case. If the driver acted in a way that they knowingly went against their training or company guidelines, then that liability can fall on their shoulders. This, however, is up to the carrier company to determine and not any of the victims.The process becomes even harder to navigate if the carrier is operated by a local or state government, as a school bus. This is very common. School buses, in particular, are involved in the highest number of accidents where a passenger fatality occurs. 37% of deaths caused by an accident with a bus are carriers transporting students.
If this is the case, you have to file the claim in a relatively quick amount of time, as the statute of limitations is much stricter when a government-operated carrier is at fault. Each state handles this process differently, and there may even be additional forms and hurdles that you must traverse. Thus, the right bus accident lawyer is necessary to help ensure that this process is completed correctly and on time.
In cases where the bus driver is not the negligible party, and another driver caused the accident, you will make a third-party claim with the insurance company of the driver for any damages, including things like medical costs or loss of wages. These bus accident claims usually result in an injury settlement.
SEPTA Bus Accidents
Philadelphia residents are familiar with the local public transportation system known as SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority). SEPTA operates several different types of transportation systems, including railways, subways, and trolleys. But perhaps the most common form of SEPTA transportation is its bus system, with a fleet of around 1,400 buses traveling over 100 different routes. Anyone traveling around Philadelphia and the surrounding Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware, and Chester counties has likely seen the white and red buses that serve a population of over 4 million people.
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (or SEPTA, as the locals call it) is the regional municipal authority that controls and operates the public transit systems in the Philadelphia metropolitan area. SEPTA runs a comprehensive subway, light and elevated rail, trolley, and bus system throughout Philadelphia. It provides public transportation for around 4.5 million people in that area, making it of critical importance to the livelihood of the city.
Many people rely on SEPTA for their daily commute or to run errands, and many tourists use it as a way to navigate around the city to sightsee. Public transportation provides a convenient and inexpensive way to travel for many people. Because of the number of people who use SEPTA every day, any accident that involves SEPTA vehicles can be both very frightening and devastating, because the weight of the vehicles can cause serious damage and because of the number of people who are involved as passengers.
When a mass transit vehicle is involved in an accident, it is usually because of an error on the part of the driver of the vehicle or a malfunctioning machine part. The causes of such accidents can include driver fatigue, improperly trained drivers, reckless drivers, malfunctioning equipment, or equipment that has not been properly inspected or maintained. If you or someone you love has been involved in an accident with a SEPTA vehicle, call our offices so that an experienced Philadelphia mass transit accident lawyer can look at your case.
Some of the more common causes of SEPTA accidents include:
- Driver Fatigue – Often, drivers of SEPTA and other mass transit vehicles work long hours and late shifts, or they work too many hours because of budget constraints, all of which can make them tired and can inhibit their ability to respond and stay sharp and alert. Because the vehicles they drive can weigh up to thousands of pounds, it is dangerous to have a tired driver in control of the vehicle. Whether a bus driver runs a red light or a subway driver veers off the track, a tired driver can cause a lot of damage if he or she makes a mistake while controlling the vehicles and can cause many injuries or even deaths.
- Iimproperly Trained Drivers – Anyone who drives or operates a SEPTA vehicle must complete a certain amount of training in order to be legally eligible to drive large mass transit vehicles. Unfortunately, if budgets are tight or manpower is low, many trainees have rushed training or their training is bypassed altogether in an effort to get them to work faster and to spend less money. Your SEPTA lawyer can look into the training of the driver of the vehicle involved in your accident to determine if their training was adequate.
- Vehicle Malfunction – The driver is not always to blame for SEPTA accidents. In some cases, the vehicle itself, whether it is a bus, subway, train, or trolley car, can malfunction and cause an accident to occur. This can happen for any number of reasons, but the most common are improper maintenance, ignored recalls of faulty parts, or failure to replace old vehicles. Documents about maintenance, recalls, and repairs can be accessed by your lawyer.
- Reckless Driving – If a driver has any citations or has been suspended, it is kept on record with the mass transit authority. If there is a chance that the driver of your vehicle engaged in reckless driving, your lawyer will have access to the documents on that driver to see if the driver has a history of reckless driving.
- Equipment Issues – SEPTA mass transit vehicles must be inspected regularly in order to stay in prime working condition and provide safe transportation for passengers. If the vehicles have not been properly inspected or maintained, whether due to carelessness or financial issues, that could have been the cause of the accident. Your lawyer will also be able to access these documents and discover if poor inspection and maintenance caused the accident.
Our Law Offices work with individuals who have been injured in SEPTA accidents in Southeastern Pennsylvania, including Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties, and in Philadelphia itself. Our lawyers have extensive experience working with these kinds of cases and are knowledgeable about the best ways to go about SEPTA cases in order to make sure that you receive compensation for any injuries you received in the accident. Because there are time constraints on when you can file cases against SEPTA, do not wait – call our offices today at 215 735 4800 for your free consultation.
Public transportation is usually a very safe, convenient, and cost effective way for people to travel or commute. However, because these buses are so common around the Philadelphia, the likelihood of being involved in an accident as a passenger on a SEPTA bus also increases. Each year, there are hundreds of accidents involving SEPTA buses on the roadways of Philadelphia and the surrounding areas. As a result, people who rely on these buses for transportation to commute to work or to get around the city are at risk of being injured in a SEPTA bus accident. If this has happened to you or someone you love, reach out to one of our experienced Philadelphia SEPTA bus accident attorneys to help you with your case. You may be entitled to receive compensation as an accident victim of a bus accident.
Bus Accident Causes: Driver Error
Bus accidents are often caused by driver error. If the bus driver is fatigued or overworked, they may be paying less attention than they should and could drive carelessly, causing an accident. If the driver was not properly trained, they may make a mistake operating the bus on a busy road. Additionally, if there is an issue with the bus itself and a part malfunctions or was improperly installed or repaired, an accident is likely to occur. Legally, SEPTA is at fault for driver errors or for bus malfunctions, but accident victims may face issues pursuing their claims when they are injured in a bus accident.
Injuries Sustained during Bus Accidents can be devastating
One of the biggest issues that passengers on SEPTA buses face in accidents is the extent of their injuries. Bus accidents can cause unexpected and severe injuries depending on the speed and the type of impact that occurs. Buses often get full of passengers, causing some to have to stand up and hold onto a bar or strap. Even passengers who are seated do not have seat belts to protect them in the event of a crash. This means that collisions can cause passengers to fall or be thrown inside the bus, which can cause serious injuries like broken bones, head trauma, cuts and bruises, or spinal injuries. These injuries could mean hundreds or even thousands of dollars in medical bills and could have lasting effects on your ability to work and earn an income. In these cases, it is important to get in touch with an attorney to ensure that you receive compensation to cover your injuries and other expenses and damages.
Bus Collisions with other Motorists
It is also the case that SEPTA buses are sometimes involved in accidents with cars or other vehicles on the road. Because SEPTA buses are so large and heavy, they can cause serious damage to smaller vehicles when they collide with them. This could cause major damage to the other vehicle and could cause injuries to the people in the car as well as passengers on the bus. Accident victims in these cases could also face serious injuries and need the assistance of an experienced attorney to help them receive compensation.
Emotional Damage Caused by Bus Accidents
Bus accident victims also face many other potential issues even beyond treating their immediate injuries and medical problems. Some injuries may cause disabilities or paralysis and require long term care, sometimes even lifetime care. Accident victims may also suffer from grief, depression, or emotional distress, pain and suffering, and post-traumatic stress disorder that will require counseling. Victims should be compensated for these issues as well beyond just out of pocket medical bills and expenses.
Dealing with Government Agencies for Compensation
Unfortunately, dealing with a state operated agency like SEPTA presents its own set of legal issues that often complicate cases for accident victims. First, state agencies are often protected by sovereign immunity, meaning that an individual cannot sue the state agency directly if they were hurt in a bus accident except in certain cases authorized by the legislature. And even if it is authorized by the legislature, there may be limits to how much you can recover for your injuries, meaning that you may not be able to receive adequate compensation without a lawyers assistance.
Second, there may be specific laws that control various aspects of lawsuits against transportation systems like SEPTA. Because of the complications of SEPTA bus accident cases, it is important to have the assistance of a qualified Philadelphia attorney to help you with your case. Transportation systems like SEPTA are called common carriers and are subject to certain standards of care for their passengers. This means that SEPTA is responsible to fulfill that high standard of care when transporting passengers and must ensure that passengers are kept safe. Otherwise, they will be considered under the law to have acted negligently. However, there may still be issues of sovereign immunity because of SEPTA's position as a state agency. Your SEPTA accident lawyer will help you understand how to pursue your claim and work to ensure that you receive the right amount of compensation for your injuries.
Our Attorneys are Here to Help
The lawyers at Philly Injury Law know that it can be intimidating to pursue a claim against a government agency like SEPTA. We do not want bus accident victims to feel that they have to handle their case alone, and we will work zealously on your behalf to ensure your rights are protected and that you are compensated for all of your injuries, property damage, and any other damage or expenses caused by the accident. Contact our office right away for a free consultation with one of our attorneys at the hospital, at your home, or at our offices.
Thousands of people in Philadelphia and the surrounding metropolitan area count on SEPTA, or the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, to get them from place to place safely. SEPTA is the sixth largest rapid transit system in the United States based on ridership (serving around 4.5 million people), and it operates 121 bus routes in the Philadelphia area, most within the confines of the city itself. With the number of buses on the road and passengers on each bus, the chances of an accident involving a SEPTA bus are relatively high, which can be a frightening reality to the number of people who count on them to provide safe transportation. Furthermore, the results of such an accident can have significant effects on those riding the bus.
If you have been injured in a SEPTA bus accident, you need to talk to a personal injury lawyer who specializes in SEPTA cases. Our attorneys have handled many cases involving buses operated by SEPTA and will know the best way to navigate your case. In many cases, you could receive compensation after the accident if you were injured in the accident, whether it was physical, mental, or financial. Our offices have handled SEPTA cases in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties as well as many in the Philadelphia area. Our twenty years of experience means that we are well equipped to handle your particular case.
An accident involving a SEPTA bus can occur for a number of different reasons. A common reason is that a driver is improperly trained or made a mistake while driving. SEPTA bus drivers must complete a certain amount of training and recertification in order to operate a SEPTA bus. However, sometimes this training can be cut short or overlooked in an effort to save money or get more drivers on the routes as quickly as possible, which can cause driver errors. Your experienced lawyer will know what kinds of training the drivers are required to complete and will be able to access documents and records to show whether the driver had successfully completed the training.
Your SEPTA bus accident attorney will be able to access records to prove that SEPTA and its employees were responsible for the accident, including any ignored recalls or inadequate training of drivers. They will then be able to get the compensation you deserve. We have over twenty years of experience handling cases involving SEPTA buses and personal injury cases in the Philadelphia area, and we will provide you with the best legal representation in order to help you through the process of filing your claim and getting the compensation you deserve for your medical bills and your pain and suffering.
There is a statutory limit on the amount of compensation you can receive from SEPTA, so it is crucial to have a skilled lawyer on your side to make sure you get the full amount. There is also a time limit on when you can file your claim, so do not wait to call our offices to get your case started today.
SEPTA has a considerable history with accidents involving both riders and pedestrians.
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. 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 Philly Injury Law. 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 Philly Injury Law 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.
What Steps to take after a SEPTA Accident in Philadelphia
Bus accidents, since they involve so many people as well as public transportation, are involved. Achieving the best possible outcome can take a significant amount of legwork. This is especially true if you happen to be driving a vehicle that collided with a bus or if you are a pedestrian that was hit by a bus. Though in those situations your loved ones may be the ones looking for answers. Though buses are one of the safest modes of transportation for passengers, they are also involved in the most accidents per registered vehicle according to the NTSB. There can be several factors that determine how and why a bus would be involved in an accident- it could be a simple human error, an engineering flaw, or adverse conditions may play a part.
What You Must Do First
If you are ever involved in a bus accident, attend to your health and contact emergency services. Make sure you and anyone around you is as safe as they can be before you move on to any other steps. Verify that the police are on their way. This is, first and foremost, the job of the driver or any attendants, but they may be incapacitated.
If you can take photos and document the scene directly after an accident, do so. The sooner evidence is gathered, the better. Remember to get names and contact information from any other passengers if you are on the bus. Look for possible witnesses outside of the bus, too.
Though the police will make a report and gather evidence, your first-hand account may contain critical information. Photographs taken just after an accident are also more compelling forms of evidence than witness testimony in some cases.
After you can leave the scene, make sure you and anyone that was with you is thoroughly checked over by a doctor and that their report mentions the accident and any injuries you may have sustained from it. That documentation needs to be in place for you to receive proper medical compensation. Don't put this off. Though you may have up to a week to be checked over in most circumstances, waiting even a single day can cause doubt.
Before you sign or accept any form of payment, take your health into account. An immediate promise to pay your immediate health bills and add a little extra to compensate for pain or lost work can be appealing. However, if your injuries persist or an underlying condition comes to light, accepting such a deal will only lead to regret. If you were injured in a bus accident, the chances are that it was severe. In the case of any injury compensation, it is best to consult an attorney immediately. They can handle all the paperwork for you and go over any possible settlement or payment offer with you. They may also be able to help you file any additional claims. They can also help you get the maximum possible compensation and identify what you are eligible to be compensated for.
If You Want to Sue
Consult an attorney. It's not advisable that you pursue this route without one. Who you can sue depends on who is at fault. In cases of minor injuries, there is still cause for an attorney. If you were seriously injured or disabled, if a loved one was killed or severely injured, or the accident involved a pedestrian or child this is without a doubt a necessary course of action. ? After an accident, you deserve appropriate care and compensation. While the bus company, insurers, and the local police will do their best to do just that any evidence you can collect as well as the help of an attorney can make the whole process smoother for all involved. It will also help you, and potentially the other passengers, achieve the best possible outcome.