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I Was Injured on Public Transportation. What Should I Do?

city bus on road
Posted on Categories Blog

Public transportation methods – subways, buses, trains, and commuter ferries – are safer than being in a car. That doesn’t mean injuries aren’t possible. Bureau of Transportation provides a lot of statistics for the number of accidents each year that injure workers, passengers, and bystanders or other drivers.

Bus crashes in 2017 totaled 67,000. It’s important to note that the BTS doesn’t break it down by school bus, tour bus, or public transportation. Train accidents led to just over 10,300 accident reports, while transit accidents were lower at 7,080. Finally, some of the 6,545 waterborne accidents affected people taking public ferries.

What Are Common Carrier Laws?

By definition, a carrier is a company that’s responsible for the transport of people or goods. They include bus companies, ferries, commuter trains, taxis, subways, etc. Part of the job is for that carrier to transport the “goods” safely. Until the people or items reach their destination, the carrier must do everything possible to keep them safe.

There are exceptions to the rule. Accidents caused by an act of nature, terrorism/crime, defects, or fraud are exempt from liability. For example, if a freak blizzard caused a bus to slide off the road, the bus company isn’t liable for acts of nature.

Despite the liability laws, you must be able to prove negligence. If you’re on a bus and the driver slams on the brakes to avoid a drunk driver who is about to run a stop sign, the driver is actually taking responsible, preventative action. If you were thrown out of your seat, the driver of the bus was not negligent.

Let’s say you’re on a commuter train that goes too fast around a curve. The investigation uncovers the fact that the railroad engineer fell asleep and wasn’t controlling the train. The engineer shouldn’t have been sleeping and is liable.

If you believe the public transportation company or driver was negligent, there are a few things you need to do. Go through these steps to make sure you have the information you need if you decide to proceed with a personal injury lawsuit.

Allow Doctors to Examine You

If you’re injured while using public transportation, you have rights if you’re injured through no fault of your own. The very first thing you need to do is make sure you’re okay. Your well-being is the most important thing to take care of. Ask to be seen by paramedics. If that’s not possible at the time, go to an urgent care clinic or hospital emergency room on your own.

If you do decide to sue the public transportation company, you want paperwork from the doctor or hospital that shows you put your health and safety first. You didn’t wait days or weeks to get checked out, which can suggest the injury happened at another time. You prioritized your well-being and followed the doctor’s instructions.

Keep track of the medical expenses that build up. If you need physical therapy, attend those appointments and keep track of those bills, too. You’ll want to get your expenses covered by the responsible party. If you miss work, get a letter from your employer that lists your hourly wage or salary and normal hours. Get a note from your doctor that details how long you will be unable to work.

Talk to Authorities

Talk to the authorities who investigate the crash. Make sure you get an officer’s name and contact information. You’ll want to be updated on the investigation to learn how and why it happened. You’re going to share your account as a passenger. It’s okay to focus on your physical health before you give your account. If you’re in pain and struggling to stay focused, tell the authorities you want medical care first.

You may want to get names and contact information for any witnesses and other passengers. Get photos of your injuries, damaged personal items, and the accident scene. If you’re injured, don’t prioritize this. You can ask a friend or witness to do this for you. When you are well enough, you can call the officer you spoke to and ask for updates.

Seek Advice From a Personal Injury Attorney

There are limitations on how long you have to file a personal injury lawsuit. While it’s generally two years in Iowa, rules may change if you’re suing a government agency. This is why it’s important to seek a free consultation with an expert in public transportation injuries.

Trial Lawyers for Justice specialize in personal injury law. Call them to discuss your bus accident, train accident, or injuries received in a public transportation accident. TL4J’s Iowa attorneys offer assistance via online chat or by calling 1-866-854-5529.

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Nick Rowley founded Trial by Human, a nationwide legal education course to help trial lawyers improve their skills in the courtroom by "being human".