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Public transit accidents: When can you sue?

The use of public transit has increased substantially in the past few years, according to the American Public Transportation Association. In fact, Americans took over 10 billion trips on public transit in 2013, marking the highest number of annual trips in over five decades. Each weekday, Americans use public transit over 35 million times. While many Americans still own cars, the truth is more and more people are beginning to rely on public transportation for commuting to and from work and running errands.

The rise in the use of public transit is definitely a plus for our wallets and the environment. However, the chance of trains and buses being involved in a traffic accident increases as the use of public transit rises. If you have recently been involved in a public transit accident, you may want to know whether you can seek compensation.

The court treats public transit accidents differently from standard traffic accidents. These slight differences can have an impact on your case. Here is some information you should know if you've been involved in a public transit accident.

Common Carrier Considerations

According to the law, any entity that transports people or goods from place to place is a "common carrier." Some examples of common carriers include trains, buses, and light rails. Since common carriers are held responsible for passenger safety, the law holds these entities to a higher standard of care. The law compares the actions of common carriers to that of a "reasonably careful operator." Most of the time, common carriers operate under a regulatory body's authority. For example, commercial airlines follow the standards set by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

If you want to seek compensation for your injuries after a public transit action, you will need to show that the operator acted negligently. You will also need to show that this negligence caused the accident. Some types of evidence that you may be able to provide to support your case include eyewitness testimony and inspection records.

While accidents on common carriers are fairly uncommon, they can happen at any time and to anyone. If you suffered injuries after a public transit accident, you may be able to seek compensation. However, there are strict deadlines to file a lawsuit, and other legal complications and obstacles may exist. Consult with an experienced personal injury attorney if you have questions about recovering compensation after a bus, train or subway accident. 

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