Injuries on public transportation can be painful. From falling down when the driver makes an unsafe turn to suffering broken bones and lacerations in a bus crash, these accidents can result in expensive medical costs, long periods of time out of work, and damage to your personal property.
You may choose to file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court to recover compensation for these losses. However, filing a lawsuit requires an understanding of liability, California’s common carrier laws, and the potential damages you may be eligible for.
Who Is Liable for a Public Transportation Accident?
The first step to filing a lawsuit for public transportation injuries is to identify the at-fault party in your claim. Your entire case will depend on proving this defendant’s negligence, and you cannot begin the filing process until you identify who is responsible for your injuries.
Liability in public transportation cases can be complex. If a bus driver was responsible for the accident, you will usually file your claim against the state or local government or regional transportation authority who employs him or her.
In cases where a third-party driver is responsible for the accident, you will file the claim directly against him or her. You can either file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company or a lawsuit in civil court.
California’s Common Carrier Laws
If you are in a car accident while in a motor vehicle, you can collect damages for your injuries by proving the other driver’s negligence. To secure your settlement, you must prove that the at-fault driver owed you a duty of care, breached his or her duty of care to you, and this breach of care directly caused your injuries.
For public transportation accidents, you will still need to prove the at-fault party’s negligence to win your case. However, California law considers all public and private transportation companies to be common carriers and subject to a higher standard of care than a regular driver.
California’s common carrier law requires common carriers to use the utmost care and diligence for the safety of their passengers. In addition, common carriers must provide everything necessary to uphold this duty of care and use a reasonable degree of skill to carry out these requirements.
If a common carrier does not uphold this duty of care, you may be eligible for financial compensation. Common causes of negligence in public transportation cases include the following.
- Distracted driving
- Drowsy driving
- Unnecessary stops and starts
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Failure to maintain public transportation vehicles
- Inadequate driver training
- Collisions with another motor vehicle
Immediately following your accident, collect as much evidence as you can to identify its cause. Take pictures and videos, ask witnesses for their contact information, and seek medical attention to receive treatment for your injuries.
Contact an Injury Attorney
One important consideration you must keep in mind for public transportation cases is that the statute of limitations differs in these lawsuits than in other motor vehicle accidents. If you are filing a claim against the government, you must file your lawsuit within six months after the accident or the court will likely dismiss your claim.
This deadline is much shorter than the standard personal injury deadline, which is two years from the date of the accident. To ensure that you meet this statute of limitations, contact a public transportation accident attorney.
Your attorney can provide a number of benefits beyond helping you file your lawsuit. Your lawyer will have a strong knowledge of common carrier and personal injury law, be able to connect you with resources to build your case, and can estimate your damages so you do not accept an insufficient settlement. As soon as possible after your accident, contact your attorney to discuss your legal options.