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What Happens If You Get Injured in a Public Transportation Accident?

Californians rely heavily on public transportation. In 2019 alone, Los Angeles-area buses, subways and trolleys proved an estimated 370 million rides and covered more than 1.7 billion passenger miles, according to the Metro agency. Unfortunately, Southern California — and cities throughout the entire state — sees more than a handful of serious accidents every year involving public transportation.

Under California law, entities that provide transportation to the public in exchange for a fee are usually classified as common carriers. They include:

  • Buses
  • Subways, above ground rail systems and trolleys
  • Airplanes
  • Taxis and limousines
  • Cruise ships
  • Ski lifts
  • Amusement parks

When it comes to safety, common carriers owe a very high duty of care to their customers. The law says that common carriers “must use the utmost care and diligence for their safe carriage, must provide everything necessary for that purpose, and must exercise to that end a reasonable degree of skill.” In other words, operators of public transportation must go to great lengths to ensure the safety of passengers and others on the road.

A common carrier can breach its duty of care in a variety of ways. If you were injured in a public transportation accident, your lawyer will examine all the evidence to figure out the cause. Some of the causes of these accidents are improperly trained or overworked drivers and operators, poorly maintained vehicles and failed or inadequate safety equipment.

The evidence needed in public transportation accident cases must be gathered from many different sources. There will be formal incident reports from police, first responders and government entities, which operate public transit systems). The driver’s history will be relevant, as will safety and maintenance records. Eye witnesses must be interviewed. And surveillance footage must be analyzed, whether the footage came from cameras inside a bus or from cameras mounted on nearby buildings or other structures.

Because mass transit companies are usually owned either by a large corporation or by a government entity, pursuing injury claims against them tends to be more complicated than a typical motor vehicle accident case. Special procedures and different deadlines may apply, and the techniques a lawyer uses must be specially tailored to the challenges presented.

Patterson Law in Santa Barbara is highly experienced in investigating and litigating injury claims stemming from mass transit accidents. We have succeeded in cases involving buses, trains, cruise ships and virtually all other forms of public transport in California. If you need an attorney today, please call 888-479-4589 or contact us online.