Every day people from all walks of life hop on busses, trains, trolleys, etc., on their way to work, to visit friends, and a variety of other activities. They put their trust in the operators and drivers of these vehicles and expect that they are trained and professional, and will deliver them safely to their destination. Though it’s rare, Massachusetts Public Transportation Accidents do happen. So, where do you stand when you’re the injured victim in this scenario?
The ‘Common Carrier’ Law
Most personal injury cases are based on negligence rules; the injured person must prove that the defendant was negligent in order to win the case.
Public transportation companies in Massachusetts are subject to what is called the “Common Carriers” Law. This means they owe their passengers a higher degree of care than the average person does. The injured person must still prove that the public transportation company was negligent in order to win the case.
Common carriers generally include public buses, trains, and trolleys, as well as taxis.
Though the common carrier may owe this higher duty of care, the injured person must always prove negligence. For example, say that you are standing on a public bus, the bus swerves or stops short, and you get thrown to the floor and injured. Just because the bus swerved or stopped short and you got hurt does not mean that the bus driver was negligent. If a child had run into the street unexpectedly, and the bus driver had been driving at a reasonable and safe speed beforehand, the bus driver may well be found not to be at fault. But if the accident occurred because the bus driver had been talking with a passenger, the bus driver will likely be found negligent. This higher duty of care means that bus drivers cannot talk with their passengers. They cannot be even a little bit negligent.
Claim Procedure And Statute Of Limitations
Another distinction between public transportation law and standard personal injury law has to do with the procedure for bringing a claim against a public transportation company.
Because public transportation companies are state or municipal agencies, special state laws (usually called State Tort Claims Acts) apply to claims brought against them. There will almost always be time and notice deadlines for filing injury claims against a government entity like a public transportation company. against the public transportation company
To make sure that you satisfy all of Massachusetts’ notification requirements, if you got hurt on public transportation, you should contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.